Wednesday, November 10, 2010

African governments urged to consider climate change in disaster planning

George Fominyen in Reuters Alertnet: Governments in West and Central Africa should learn from this year's flooding - which has disrupted the livelihoods of nearly 2 million people - by urgently factoring climate change into their disaster prevention and response plans, aid groups say.

Extreme weather linked to climate change, including heavy rainfall, is expected to cause increasing damage in the region. In West Africa alone this year, the number of people who lost their homes and property due to floods doubled from around 800,000 in 2009 to 1.6 million.

Aid workers say governments could have done more to protect vulnerable communities. "There has been excess rainfall, but it seems authorities in some of these countries did not have proper forecasts and could not take the necessary action to handle these problems," said Yvon Edomou, a spokesman for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in West and Central Africa.

This year, floods have washed away crops in Chad and Niger, which were already struggling to recover from drought and food shortages, and disrupted the lives of 680,000 people in the coastal state of Benin. Ghana and Nigeria have also been badly affected….

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