Horn of Africa's climate resilience hinges on robust early warning systems: experts

NAIROBI, May 16 (Xinhua) -- Countries in the greater Horn of Africa region should invest in robust early warning systems to boost the resilience of local communities on the frontlines of the climate crisis, experts said Thursday at a virtual forum in Nairobi, the Kenyan capital.

Philip Omondi, a climate change specialist at the Intergovernmental Authority on Development's affiliated Climate Prediction and Applications Center (ICPAC), said the region requires data-driven anticipatory action to tame climate emergencies, including droughts, floods, cyclones and wildfires.

"The ability to predict looming extreme weather events will help inform policymakers, farmers and livestock keepers in the region about measures that can boost their resilience to these shocks," Omondi said.

The forum, organized by ICPAC and its partners, aimed to highlight the crucial role of effective early warning systems in enhancing climate response in the greater Horn of Africa region.

Omondi said that given its high vulnerability to climatic shocks, including recurrent droughts and the recent flooding that claimed many lives, the region has no option but to channel resources toward anticipatory measures anchored on scientific evidence and data.

Through improved early warning, the Horn of Africa region will be able to invest in climate resilience programs tailor-made for subsistence farmers, herders and fishermen, Omondi said.

Describing the region as one of the world's leading climate hotspots, Omondi said that local communities deserve timely updates about looming disasters to help them mitigate against loss of lives and livelihoods.

Phoebe Wafubwa Shikuku, the climate resilience coordinator at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), said that investing in early warning will help governments in the region establish contingency plans in the event of a climate disaster.

To help communities cope with extreme weather events and avert a humanitarian crisis, governments should set aside emergency funds to cater to the provision of food, clean drinking water, medicine, shelter and sanitation, Shikuku said.

She called for the harmonization of regional early warning systems, enhancing community-based surveillance and monitoring and leveraging indigenous knowledge to minimize the negative impact of climate change on vulnerable communities.

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