Climate Change Latest: African countries unprepared for weather disasters

African counties are being ravaged by the impact of climate change but most still do not have adequate meteorological services for early weather warning systems.

KZN Premier, Sihle Zikalala, addressing delegates at the inaugural meeting of the KwaZulu-Natal Council on Climate Change & Sustainable Development in Durban on Wednesday, said that as late as last year only 10 out of 54 African countries had adequate meteorological services. This was despite the fact that developing countries are severely impacted by the effect of climate change, he said.

“Climate science remains weak and underfunded on the continent. For a long period, the Green Climate Fund has been undercapitalised, and we hope that with the US rejoining the Paris Agreement under President Biden, there will be more funding for developing nations to fight global warming and create resilient communities in the face of adverse weather patterns,” Zikalala said.

“Cyclone Idai which in April 2019 struck Mozambique, Malawi, and Zimbabwe is still fresh in our memory. Over a thousand people lost their lives, nearly 200 000 households were displaced and more than 800,000 hectares of crops were destroyed.,” he said.

“Last year, Sudan experienced the worst flooding in 30 years where about 120 people died, 166 000 houses damaged, and approximately a million people were affected.”

“We can still recall the deadly floods that the province of KwaZulu-Natal experienced during Easter time in 2019. People lost their lives, homes were damaged, and infrastructure was destroyed,” he said. KwaZulu-Natal was also affected by a string of tornadoes which happened one after another in a space of two weeks during November of 2019. In 2020 alone, a number of heavy rainfalls leading to flash floods across different parts of this province were also observed. “During the dry season of 2020 various veld fires occurred. Along the coastal areas of the province, damaging coastal storms were not a rare occurrence. The intensity and frequency of these weather patterns remind us of a shift from the norm, leaving serious destruction on infrastructure. Such devastation affects already threatened livelihoods,” Zikalala said.

Zikalala said that the hazardous weather incidents, and the rate and intensity with which they were occurring due to climate change, demanded an expeditious response from the government working with all stakeholders to ensure resilience of the people. 

“As one of its tasks, the council is expected to provide guidance on this matter. This means crystalising the province’s focused responses informed by the vulnerability assessments that were conducted across all municipalities,” he said.

He said this called for the implementation of the new KwaZulu-Natal Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan that was unveiled at the meeting.



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