Kisumu, Kenya − In a part of the world struggling with climate-related hazards such as drought and flood, experts are meeting to discuss ways for Africa to cope with disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation.
Addressing participants at the opening of the International Conference on Community-based Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation, Abbas Gullet, Secretary-General of the Kenya Red Cross Society, said that climate-related hazards had far-reaching impacts on the Kenyan economy.
“The country is going through one of the worst droughts, which has had negative impacts on our livestock,” said Mr. Gullet. “Climate change adaptation projects are a good opportunity to improve significantly coping capacities of vulnerable farmers, such as the one developed by the Kenya Red Cross Society in the country’s eastern region.”
Youcef Ait Chellouche from the UNISDR Regional Office for Africa also called on participants to share knowledge and experience to improve the implementation of Africa’s disaster risk reduction strategy. He stressed the need to integrate climate-resilient strategies into sustainable development policies and related planning processes.
Responding to the call, Benson Omondi, the deputy mayor of Kisumu where the conference is taking place, said his city was working to strengthen disaster preparedness, response and mitigation strategies to tackle both man-made and natural hazards.
Conference participants spent the last two days of the meeting drafting a plan of action towards developing a climate risk management programme in countries throughout the East African region. The participants agreed to strengthen the partnership between climate change scientists, hydrologists and disaster risk managers to help address climate-related disasters in Africa, such as drought, floods, cholera and malaria.
Francis Muraya from the World Bank pointed at the possibility of the Bank’s Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery programme to support such partnerships to support countries that face adverse effects of climate change. In his closing remarks, Mr. Muraya advised participants to urge their governments to build standard infrastructure that is disaster resilient.
The International Conference on Community-based Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation, taking place from 6-10 December 2010, is organized by the IGAD Climate Prediction and Applications Centre (ICPAC) in collaboration the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) Regional Office for Africa. Participants included scientists, policymakers, climate change and disaster risk reduction experts as well as representatives from UN agencies, the private sector, NGOs, community-based organizations and academic institutions from across East Africa.