AFRICA: UN appeals to G8 leaders for money to research climate change in Africa

Friday, June 8, 2007

The United Nations' World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) has appealed to the Group of Eight (G8) leaders for money to help improve Africa's climate data collection.

"Climate change is a global phenomenon; to make predictions and study its impact - data from South Africa will be as important to Russia as would information from Mongolia for Kenya", Michel Jarraud, WMO secretary-general told IRIN.

The appeal came during the G8 summit being held in Heiligendamm in Germany.

"I cannot be cynical and say that the reason the rich countries must provide money is to help themselves, but I do no know many of them care about the future of the planet", Jarraud said.

Last year, the group of rich countries had promised to help fund a US$250 million 10-year programme to improve Africa's clmate information gathering system. Called Climate for Development in Africa (ClimDev Africa), the programme developed by WMO with the participation of the UN Economic Commission for Africa and the African Union intends to improve climate monitoring, climate services and climate-related risk management.

"Only a little seed money has come through from UK Department for International Development," Jarraud said.

Pressing developmental needs have forced the hand of most African countries to spend their limited funds on other sectors, such as health and education, with no spare change to beef up up their climate services, Jarraud explained.

Climate information gathering networks in Africa are weak and have deteriorated over the years. "But I cannot blame the governments, they have had to prioritise their spending because of several crises : droughts, food insecurity and then HIV/AIDS", he said.

But climate information was critical for managing and preventing many of the crises that plague Africa such as crop failures and even diseases like malaria, said Jarraud, "And we have convinced the African leaders of the need to prioritise climate information gathering by linking it to developmental needs under ClimDev Africa".


Source: IRIN