Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Meeting to discuss El-Nino starts today in Naivasha

East African bloc countries are set to meet in Kenyan town of Naivasha today for a regional consultative meeting on impending El Nino impact and preparation for early action, organisers said on Sunday. The Inter-Government Authority on Development (IGAD) through their specialised institution IGAD Climate Predictions and Applications Centre (ICPAC) said the Oct. 20-21 meeting will be used to create awareness about the effects of El Nino. “The organisers expect to use the consultative forum to facilitate national and regional experts to create awareness and provide an update of the predicted El Nino event including preparedness at community level across the region," IGAD said in a statement released in Nairobi. The consultative meeting, which falls under the ICPAC Greater Horn of Africa Climate Outlook Forums (GHACOFs), is expected to bring together climate scientists, communication experts, policy makers including ministers of finance and ministers responsible for disaster risk management from the Greater Horn of Africa. ICPAC is the specialised IGAD institution based in Nairobi, mandated to provide timely climate warning information, which covers IGAD members' states as well as Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi. The meeting comes as aid agencies have warned of the sub-Saharan Africa region is at risk of acute hunger as food production situation is set to further worsen with the looming El Nino. The agency said a series of climatic shocks in 2014 and 2015 decimated harvests, leaving many people dependent on food aid to survive. Floods and droughts in southern Africa resulted in significant declines in maize production, the regional staple.  But the agency warned that the worst is yet to come. The El Nino climate phenomenon, characterised by a warming in the Pacific Ocean, is set to strengthen over the coming months and persist into 2016. When El Nino occurs, rainfall patterns shift, increasing the risk of extreme weather events. Also expected to participate at the IGAD meeting are parliamentary committees on agriculture and infrastructure in the member states, climate experts and a wide range of user communities. "There will also be representation from the National Red Cross/Red Crescent and the International Federation of Red Cross," it said. The ICPAC Greater Horn of Africa Climate Outlook Forums (GHACOFs) are seasonal forums for the release of the climate outlook for the upcoming season to facilitate early action. GHACOF has made enormous contribution to the improvement of the quality of the seasonal rainfall outlook, biomass prediction and dissemination of climate information and prediction products for disaster risk management.

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