Friday, September 28, 2007

Red Cross/Red Crescents says Africa flooding will worsen

International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies: ... Our response to these smaller scale incidents is key. In situations like this, national Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies are often the only organisations on hand to help. Because our volunteers live in the heart of communities worldwide, no matter how remote, they are uniquely placed to help in times of crisis. These “neglected” disasters do not hit the headlines. But the suffering of those affected - people who have lost not only their homes and belongings, but their crops and livestock as well – is just as real.

While it is not unusual for Africa to experience heavy rains at this time of the year, 2007 has brought particularly intense rainfall over a wider geographic area than normal. As a result, in 20 countries in the region, the flooding can be described as “exceptional”. The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) believes that the torrential rains stretching across Africa, and the flooding that has followed, is consistent with to the "La NiƱa" weather pattern thousands of miles away in the Pacific.

No one can say that these specific floods are directly related to climate change. However, they are consistent with the predictions of climate change analysts. The experts at our Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre in The Hague believe that the phenomenon will raise flood risks in Africa, especially in west, central and east Africa, which is suffering the worst of the present flooding. Climate change will also increase the risk of drought in some areas, while others may experience both floods and droughts, as was recently the case in Kenya, Ethiopia and Mozambique.

The significant rise in the number of climate related emergencies Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies have responded to over the past three years confirms this analysis. There is a new trend developing and we must take it seriously.

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