Addis Ababa, March 29, 2018 (ECA) - Experts in climate information services (CIS) and other related fields from across the continent on Tuesday unanimously agreed CIS has socio-economic benefits (SEB) that are helpful for disaster risk reduction (DRR), in particular supporting Africa’s response to climate change.
The experts attending a two-day validation workshop on analyzing and validating the socio-economic benefits of CIS for disaster reduction, agreed research has proven that climate information services have socio-economic benefits helpful for disaster risk reduction.
They noted Africa’s sustainable development was at risk in the absence of strong climate observing systems, especially as the continent’s core economic sectors are highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate variability and change.
In opening remarks to the workshop, Mr. James Murombedzi, Officer in Charge of the Africa Climate Policy Centre (ACPC), noted Africa was vulnerable to climate change disruptions but has the least capacity to climate proof and respond to emergencies.
“Africa’s economies are dependent on climate change-related fields like agriculture and need relevant and timely climate information services that can be translated into decision-making tools to budget for climate disruptions,” he said.
He urged participants to come up with incentives that can be used to convince policymakers to invest in climate information services.
“Climate information services and disaster risk reduction experts must figure out systems to create incentives to invest more in CIS and attract budgets from governments. We know that every dollar invested in CIS has good returns. This will help us address challenges associated with loss and damage caused by climate disruptions,” Mr. Murombedzi said.
Other speakers concurred with Mr. Murombedzi that for Africa to realise its full potential, governments should set aside significant resources to address challenges of climate-related disasters.
Mr. Bradwell Garanganga of the ACPC noted that at least $60 billion dollars lost across world economies through impacts of climate change can be saved and directed to other development projects if governments invested in climate information services.
“We need to urgently address this matter as the economic losses occasioned by natural disasters have increased 15 times from the 1950s,” Mr. Garanganga said.
Mr. Garanganga and Mr. Georg Pallaske later took the participants through the socio-economic benefits framework that was developed by the ECA that can be adopted and customized for use by African countries.
Some of the features of the socio-economic benefits model include climate information services and their utility for disaster risk reduction, forecasting, verification and attributes, data collection and management.
Participants recommended the model be tweaked to include preparedness, mitigation, response and post-disaster management.
Mr. Laban Ogallo from the University of Nairobi, said African governments need to build capacity of meteorological departments to collect, analyse and disseminate climate information services and also build the capacity of end users.
He urged experts to clearly show the link between CIS and disaster risk management.
Mr. Frank Rutabingwa of the Weather and Climate Information Services for Africa (WISER) and ACPC stressed the need for partnerships with regional bodies like the East African Community, Southern African Development Community and the Economic Community of West African States, among others to promote the model.
“We must work with all partners in this field, including regional bodies, statistical bodies, universities to show policymakers that there is value for money so that investments are done for development and well-being of humanity,” Mr. Rutabingwa said.
Mr. Nyenzi Buruhani, a climate consultant from Tanzania, said CIS needs to be disseminated in a timely manner and reach end users.
“CIS should be packaged in a language that attracts policymakers-simple and understandable,” he said.
Mr. Allan Mungai, Wiser East Africa Coordinator, proposed that the model should also include insurance for agriculturalists and sectors such as tourism, mining, energy and small island nations.
Mr. Cush Ngonzo, Head of the Health College of Kenge (ISTM -MRP) in the Democratic Republic of Congo, said the model should be able to project the impact of disasters for the next 10, 15 or 20 years.
“Our model should be able to estimate losses and filter actions for response. The socio-economic benefits CIS-DRR model should be tailor-made and improved for individual country adaptation. Good models must make good use of available data, sometimes dating back to decades,” said Mr. Luwesi.
The meeting ended with the experts promising to do their best in their own countries to convince lawmakers on the benefits of investing in climate information services which involves collating, analysing, packaging and distributing climate data on variables such as temperature, rainfall, wind, soil moisture, ocean conditions and extreme weather indicators.
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