UN partners to improve early warning system for African communities

The relationship between climate change, migration and conflict in the Sahel region remains complex. UN Photo/John Isaac

14 February 2012 – A new partnership involving the United Nations will ensure the rapid dissemination of weather updates from African meteorological experts to disaster managers in vulnerable communities.

Pedro Basabe, the head of the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR) Regional Office for Africa, announced yesterday that the UN’s partnership with the African Centre of Meteorological Applications for Development would potentially help millions of Africans at risk from hunger and malnutrition.

“The failure to mobilize an adequate and timely response to the food crisis on the Horn of Africa when the alarm was first raised 18 months ago has led to many unnecessary deaths,” said Mr. Basabe.

“This scenario is in danger of repeating itself across the Sahel this year where more than one million children are at risk of severe malnutrition and 10 million people face hunger,” he warned.

The Sahel has regularly been afflicted by food insecurity as drought, poor harvests and rising food prices have left the region on the brink of a humanitarian crisis.

Last year, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported that several areas of the Sahel had been affected by irregular rains during the 2011 cropping season and that an early end to the rains would lead to a significant drop in production and increased food insecurity.

“We hope this new partnership between the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR) and the African Centre of Meteorological Applications for Development will forge close links between the climate science community and disaster managers in Africa,” Mr. Basabe stated, adding that the partnership would seek to establish a better understanding of early warnings and a more rapid response at local, national, regional and international levels.

The partnership, announced today at a forum on disaster risk management in Nairobi, comes two weeks before a major conference in Kigali, Rwanda, where the regional climate outlook for the crucial March to May 2012 rainy season will be presented.

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