24 October 2003

East Africa: IGAD Should Discuss Weather Changes Too


Kampala — A summit of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) opens in Kampala today where the seven-member countries are expected to discuss various matters of a bilateral nature.

Chief Justice Benjamin Odoki inspects a guard of honour mounted by men and women of the Uganda Police Force at the opening of the law year in 2002. Corruption is dealt with firmly in the Judiciary (File photo).

The hope is that the delegates will find the time to include the issue of our changing weather on the agenda. The Meteorological Department has predicted that as a result of global warming, temperatures will continue to rise for the foreseeable future.

Global warming is an urgent matter that threatens to dramatically alter weather patterns, and in so doing has the potential to turn the world economy upside down.

This year alone in Uganda we have had the most erratic seasons with the rain falling when it should not and the temperatures getting intolerably hotter.

These changes have been blamed on the emission of gases that have depleted the Ozone layer, the earth's only defence against direct attack from the sun's rays.

These gases are emitted from factories, vehicles and even fridges. In a word, uncontrolled pollution of our air is to blame.

Unfortunately, rich countries like America have refused to respect the articles of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, that was comprehensively captured in the Kyoto Protocol, whose goal was to commit nations to controlling their pollution.

But we in the East African region can still do something in our own small way.

IGAD can, for instance, agree to maintain certain minimum levels of pollution to be enforced by the individual member countries.

As climate expert Mr Stephen Magezi said, poor countries like Uganda will be worst hit by the climate change because our economies are already too small to mitigate the impact of global warming.

If IGAD's members come together and agree on the said minimum standards there is an outside chance that we will contribute to world efforts to do something about this threat.

The little resources we have must not be adversely expended on paying for the consequences of global warming, especially in as far as our agricultural production, the mainstay of the country, is concerned.

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