Friday, July 5, 2013

Nigeria kickstarts efforts to head off climate disasters

Megan Rowling at the Thomson Reuters Foundation: ...Earlier this year, parts of northern Nigeria were suffering from drought conditions. Rains have now arrived there, and while there are no flood alerts yet, the concern is that last year's disaster has left communities across the country more vulnerable. 

"People have not fully recovered from the floods last year - some are still living in temporary houses, not in their own villages. The houses that they are rebuilding are still in a state of being rebuilt, so it won't take as much rain or as much flooding to set them back further," Katherine Mueller, Africa communications manager for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), told Thomson Reuters Foundation from Ethiopia.

The Red Cross appealed for around $4 million to provide emergency relief for those affected by last year's floods, which began in late August, and plans to support 50,000 people until the end of 2013. It has also trained 140 Red Cross volunteers in health and hygiene promotion, who are spreading the word about how to prevent malaria and diarrhoea, and maintain water sources and latrines.

Whether or not floods hit Nigeria this rainy season, as they have done in the past two years, it seems likely they will strike again before long as part of the global trend towards more extreme weather.

"Climate change is playing a role," Mueller said. "Because of the changing climate patterns, it's basically shaking everything up - we are getting these massive floods, which were once-in-40-year events, and they are going to be happening more regularly."...

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