Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Disaster-risk reduction in West Africa made simple

IRIN: Partnerships between aid agencies and climate experts are finally paying off by helping NGOs’ disaster prevention and response, but specialists question why it took so long. “The question is not why meteorological services and humanitarian organizations are talking to each other today, but why they have not been talking for one-and-a-half centuries,” said Maarten van Aalst, associate director of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent (IFRC) regional climate centre in the Senegalese capital, Dakar.

Since 2008, the IFRC has been working with Columbia University’s International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI), Niger-based African Centre of Meteorological Application for Development (ACMAD), and regional agriculture research agency AGRHYMET, to create seasonal forecasts that help the federation to predict disasters.

With the regional rainy season under way, IFRC has stockpiled relief items in vulnerable areas; is warning communities in the Gulf of Guinea - where above-average rainfall is predicted - to prepare for flooding; and is training volunteer teams in areas expected to be most affected.

All this helps in more efficient resource use, Youcef Ait-Chellouche, IFRC’s West Africa disaster management coordinator, told IRIN. “We now set the alert before the disaster happens. Our teams are in place 48 hours in advance,” he said....

Filling up at a well in Niger

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