Amaechi urges ECOWAS communities to unite in fighting natural disasters

Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi has urged the National Meteorological Services of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to unite in addressing the challenges associated with climate change and reducing the magnitude of casualties involved in the occurrence of natural disasters.

Amaechi stated this at the 12th meeting of the Committee of Directors of National Meteorological Services and the Council of Ministers in-charge of National Meteorological Services of ECOWAS member countries held in Abuja yesterday.

While commending the ECOWAS Commission for a successful event, Amaechi said the commission must put in place improved measures on early warning signals in order to reduce such casualties.

“Since weather does not recognize or respect political boundaries, we should also plan and act in a collective and collaborative manner across national boundaries to tackle the climate related challenges such as recurrent drought, desertification and floods that cut across our political boundaries.

“The disaster risks associated with these extreme weather phenomena could be drastically reduced through the provision and timely dissemination of accurate meteorological early warning information. This is among the primary responsibilities of National Meteorological Services,” Amaechi said.

He, however, noted that the challenge in providing quality and timely services are the poor state of meteorological infrastructure and lack of adequate technical manpower.

“It is regrettable that some of the National Meteorological Services lack basic instruments for weather observation and monitoring as well facilities for processing and storing meteorological data.

“Extreme weather events such as thunderstorms, dust storms, gusty winds, floods, ocean surges, coastal and gully erosion and drought and desertification on our region has continued to increase in intensity and frequency. The resultant effect on society and economy has been increased poverty, disease and underdevelopment.

“Apart from natural disasters the sub-region also contends with challenges of fast growing population, conflicts as well as forced migration of persons. Some of the direct consequences of this population explosion are unplanned settlements; rapid urbanization, deforestation, pollution and these have exacerbated the pressure on the already depleted resources such as agricultural land, potable water, adequate energy and affordable shelter for all citizens.

“We need to make our agricultural practices as well as infrastructural development more resilient to extreme weather. This is a task before you as experts in meteorology.”As you finalize discussions on the ECOWAS meteorology programme document for adoption I therefore urge you to ensure that all these weather and climate related issues that threaten lives and constitute impediments to the rapid economic development of our sub-region are adequately addressed,” Amaechi stated.

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