UN urges aid for poor country climate forecasts

12th May 2011, Comments 0 comments

A UN report is calling for a 75-million-dollar international investment in potentially life-saving regional weather networks to fill gaps in climate predictions in poor countries blighted by drought and storms.

The head of the UN's World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), Michel Jarraud, warned Thursday that some of the billions of dollars in international funding to help poor nations adapt to the impact of climate change might go to waste without those networks.

"There isn't a single rain gauge in Djibouti, there's no (weather) radar in Djibouti, there's no way you can predict a flood because we don't have any observations," he added, highlighting an example gleaned during a visit to the East African state's weather service.

The task force behind the report recommended that "international community makes the commitment to invest of the order of 75 million dollars a year," mostly in development aid.

It would help establish or reinforce national longer term weather forecasting in 70 developing countries, and add a broader network of 15 to 22 regional climate prediction centres around the world on top of the existing global centres.

"These countries that have established climate services like the United States, China, Australia, European countries have saved countless lives and livelihoods already," said former UN humanitarian chief Jan Egeland, who headed the task force.

"Those who do not have climate services reaching their population are losing lives and livelihoods all the time," he told journalists.

The WMO regards the step as essential to help poor nations to make longer term decisions that affect disaster prevention, farming and water management, from governments that deal with flood defences down to local farmers who tend crops.

The proposals will be put to the UN weather agency's 189 members at its annual congress next week.

© 2011 AFP

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