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Press Release No. 882

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Ministers Responsible For Meteorology in Africa Meet For the First Time To Address the challenges of Climate Change

Nairobi and Geneva, 12 April 2010 (WMO) – More than 30 Ministers in charge of meteorology in Africa responded to the international call of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), in partnership with the African Union, to meet for the first time. While the continent is the most vulnerable to climate change, Africa is the least equipped to deal with its consequences. The First Conference of Ministers Responsible for Meteorology in Africa, hosted by the Government of Kenya in Nairobi from 12 to 16 April 2010, aims at recognizing and strengthening the role of the National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHS).

Changes in temperatures and weather patterns aggravate poverty across Africa which includes 67 percent of the least developed countries. The number and magnitude of natural hazards, including droughts and floods, are already increasing. All sectors of economic activity are affected, from agriculture to food security, transport, public health, water resources management, energy and tourism. Yet Africa has a meteorological network eight times below the WMO minimum recommended standard and less than 200 automatic weather stations that meet WMO observation requirements, compared to several thousand each in Europe, North America, and parts of Asia.

Underlining the timeliness of the WMO high-level meeting for the African continent, Khadija Rachida Masri, Permanent Observer of the African Union (AU) said the meteorological capacities in African countries needed up scaling to timely action. “The AU felt the need in Africa to have ministerial conferences on very specific fields such as meteorology” she explained. “Therefore our goal, with WMO, is to reinforce meteorological capacities in African countries in order to prevent the negative impacts of climate change.”

 “Now more than ever, African National Meteorological Services are to be seen as major actors of development” said Michel Jarraud, WMO Secretary-general. “I am confident that African Ministers responsible for meteorology in Africa will explore this week the best possible ways to strengthen weather, climate and water information for decision-making to help achieve the UN Millennium Development Goals by 2015.”

Throughout the African continent, National Meteorological Services are under the umbrella of Ministers in charge of various sectors such as the Ministry of Defense, Agriculture, Environment, Transport among others. The First Conference of Ministers Responsible for Meteorology in Africa is addressing the role of WMO’s 52 Members across the region, and is expected to adopt by the end of the week a Declaration for the development of weather, water and climate services in Africa.

The Ministerial Conference will take place on 15 and 16 April at the Kenyatta International Center, and is preceded by three days of Expert meetings. Invited experts will discuss in seven sessions topics such as the challenges to meet development needs, with an overview of what has been done in terms of providing meteorological, hydrological and climate services in Africa, as well as the overall benefits of such services, in particular to health, tourism, agriculture and energy.

Disaster risk reduction will feature highly in the preparatory expert segment agenda to demonstrate the importance of forecasts and early warnings, followed by a debate on challenges and opportunities to fill information gaps in observation. Experts will also explore the needs for capacity building to generate and disseminate knowledge and address capacity gaps. In the final session, the users of weather and climate services themselves will elaborate on their needs and expectations. Throughout the week, the event will hold side events, including a special session on the Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS) which was decided upon during the World Climate Conference three, held in August-September 2009 in Geneva. The Ministerial Conference is expected to adopt a Ministerial Declaration on Meteorology and Climate in Africa with a related action plan.

For more information:

Conference website: http://www.wmo.int/pages/africaconf

Backgrounders:
1- Using nature's signals to develop africa (Arabic)
2- Cooperation initiatives in Africa (Arabic)
3- Climate change impacts on Africa according to the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report 2007 (Arabic)

 

 

WMO is the United Nations System’s authoritative voice on weather,
climate and water.

For more information, please contact:

Ms Carine Richard-Van Maele, Chief, Communications and Public Affairs, WMO, Tel: +41 (0) 22 730 8315, Mobile: +41 794 064730; E-mail:  cpa@wmo.int

Ms Marie Heuzé, Special Advisor, Tel: +41 (0) 22 730 8478, E-mail: mheuze@wmo.int

Ms Gaëlle Sévenier, Press Officer, Communications and Public Affairs, Tel. +41 (0) 22 730 8417, Fax: +41 (0) 22 730 8027, E-mail: gsevenier@wmo.int

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