14 February 2013

Nigeria: Early Information On Weather, Climate Can Reduce Disaster - Experts

Abuja — Experts have said that timely access to information on weather and climate can reduce risks associated with natural disasters.

One of the experts, Dr Anthony Anuforom, the Director -General, Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET) , made this known in an interview in Abuja on Wednesday.

Anuforom spoke on the sideline of the pre -conference on 2013 Seasonal Rainfall Prediction with the theme 'the application of metrological information in disaster risk and socio-economic planning.

According to him, the prediction will be formally presented on Feb. 15.

He said that if applied by communities, states, Ministries, Department and Agencies the risk of flood as experienced in 2012 would be reduced.

"We had serious flooding last year; it was a disaster and we have been directed to recap to make sure that every precaution is taken to ensure that such experience is not repeated.

"The forces of nature cannot be stopped, no matter our human or technological prowess; but we can, to a good level of accuracy, know what is likely to happen.

"This conference is to fill the gap; necessary information was given last year, yet people were taken unawares.

"We are, therefore, looking at all aspects of disseminating weather and climate forecast and how they can be used by all," he said.

He said that although NIMET could not stop nature, that neither human nor technology could stop it, but "we have the capacity to know what is likely to happen".

Anuforom said the Minister of Aviation, Princess Stella Oduah, had directed the agency to organise meetings at the zonal levels across Nigeria to meet with people at the grass root and get them informed early.

He said that the early warnings and predictions would also be translated into local languages and dialects immediately after the presentation in Abuja.

Mr Emmanuel Oladipo, a meteorologist, who spoke during the conference, said disasters from sudden events, like earthquakes, thunderstorms and flash floods had negative impact on people.

Oladipo said climate change was a reality and a new challenge which posed "a big risk and dramatically increases natural disasters but which early access to information could lessen.

"It brings with it changes in weather patterns that can have serious repercussions on the country's sustainable development and severe impact on people's lives and economy if not managed.

"There is a need to strengthen people's ability to prepare for and recover from disasters as well as reduce future risk.

Mr Datius Rutashobya from World Metrological Organisation said economic losses related to disasters were increasing daily and that this could be avoided through contingency plans and early warning information.

He urged the government to develop assessment teams and instruction to communities to evacuate any area whenever it is necessary.

"There are frameworks to follow to reduce risks; climate information is primarily an international public tool provided by governments which have a central role in its management through the framework.

Mr Jim Anderson, a representative of Lightening sensors Detector Company known as Earth Network from the US, said early warning information to pilots could help reduce plane crashes. NAN

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