The four-day meeting of experts in charge of meteorological services has begun in Abuja on the 2nd of August 2016 to provide important insights into some of the most critical and interconnected challenges of the region-climate change and weather management.
West Africa needs a robust response to issues relating to climate change as livelihoods in the area continue to depend heavily on the climate system while agriculture and the extraction of non-mineral natural resources remain the major sectors for food production and employment for more than 60 percent of the active population.
Welcoming delegates to the 12th Meeting of the Committee of Directors of National Meteorological Services, the ECOWAS Commissioner for Agriculture, Environment and Water Resources Mr. Tchambakou Ayassor, charged the participants to ensure that all the issues having to do with the ECOWAS strategic Programme on Meteorology services are covered during the meeting.
The Commissioner noted that ECOWAS was particularly concerned with the need to reduce the vulnerability of citizens as experts push for adaptation to climate change in West Africa.
According to him, more than 75 percent of the population in the areas are affected by climate change and are exposed to incidences of draughts, storms.
He added that both the environment and non-environment initiatives should be taken into consideration in going forward.
Thanking the ECOWAS Partners especially the government of Sweden for working strenuously in collaboration with relevant agencies to ensure that West Africa is on top of the vagaries of climate change.
Declaring the workshop open, the Nigerian minister of Transport Rotimi Amaechi said the workshop could not be holding at a more auspicious time than now when extreme whether events such as thunderstorms, dust, gusty winds, floods, ocean surges, costal and gully erosions as well as drought and desertification in our region has continued to increase in intensity and frequency.
The resultant effect according to him on society and economy, has been increased poverty, diseases and underdevelopment.
In his remark, the Chairman of the Directors of National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs) in ECOWAS Member States Mr. Lamin Mai Touray noted that as climate change intensifies today, the need for adaptation through appropriate climate risk management strategies to support livelihoods and to save lives and property have become more imperative than ever before.
He added that the inhibiting situation calls for greater support to the region’s NMHSs, if they are to play their roles effectively in national development as well as keep up with their international obligations.
There were also statements by the Secretary General of the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) professor Petteri Taalas who was represented by the Programme Officer, Offices for Africa and Least Developed Countries Mr. Ernest Afiesimama as well as the Director-General of the Nigerian Meteorological Agency Dr. Anthony Anuforom who spoke of the urgent need to prepare the ECOWAS Meteorology Programme so as not to derail the progress being made by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
The Report of the experts is expected to be adopted by the ECOWAS ministers in charge of the National Meteorological Services.
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