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Weather Disaster: NiMet, WMO Push for Adoption of Early Warning/Early Action Approach

By Hillary Asemota

The Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet) and the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), yesterday called for the adoption of the ‘Early Warning and Early Action’ approach to mitigate climate and weather induced disasters.

The Director General/CEO of NiMet and Nigeria’s Permanent Representative at the WMO, Prof. Mansur Bako Matazu, while speaking at the 2022 World Meteorological Day (WMD), organized at the instance of NiMet, in Abuja, said unfolding weather and climate phenomena, which index a new path on contemporary and germane issues affecting the global community.

The NiMet boss, admitted that in the recent decades, incidences of extreme weather events such as tropical cyclones, devastating hurricanes, ferocious wildfires, floods, heat waves, drought and landslides, have been on the increase with attendant socio-economic impacts that have threatened food security, safety of lives and properties, livelihoods, human security, nutrition, and health.

While also resonating the import of the day in alignment with Prof. Matazu in his remark, the WMO Representative for North, Central and West Africa, Dr. Benard Gomez, said weather, climate and water extremes are becoming more frequent and intense in many parts of the world as a result of climate change.

Gomez, said: “Sub-Saharan Africa, including Nigeria are exposed more than ever before to multiple related hazards, which are themselves evolving as a result of population growth, urbanization and environmental degradation.

“Forecasts of what the weather will be are no longer enough. Impact-based forecasts that inform the public of what the weather will DO are vital to save lives and livelihoods. 

“Yet a significant number of people are still not adequately covered by climate-related Early Warning systems.”

On synergy, he added that greater coordination between national meteorological and hydrological services, disaster management authorities and development agencies are fundamental to enhance prevention, preparedness and response.

According to him, early warning and early action is relevant for several weather events which include thunderstorms and associated lightning, hail, damaging winds, heavy precipitation, and tornadoes; heavy precipitation which can lead to flash floods, severe winds, visibility, sand and dust storms, and poor visibility.

It is possible to effectively prevent death and destruction of investments if the conditions which give rise to vulnerability and exposure to weather, water and climate hazards are well understood and the public is well enlightened through early warning approach, he said.

Gomez, said: “With evidence showing that extreme events of weather and climate will become more frequent and intense in Nigeria in the coming years, it is necessary to ensure weather, water and climate services gain the attention of policy makers in governments at the highest levels.

“In this regard, WMO encourages the implementation of the national framework for weather, climate and water services as this would strengthen stakeholder collaboration and sub-national programmes for Agriculture and Food Security, Disaster Risk Reduction, Energy, Transport, Leisure and Hospitality and Health.

“I wish to invite the organized user-community to step-up their engagement with NiMet and provide meaningful feedback, that would give rise to enhanced services to society.

“I therefore encourage relevant institutions and partners to access services provided by NiMet to strengthen early warning and early action in Nigeria to prevent loss of lives and livelihoods.” 

Matazu, while also speaking, noted that in 2021, a lot of ‘first’ recorded events took place in terms of rainfall amount but losses have been minimal, explaining that this is a direct result of investment in meteorological service to be better positioned to issue timely, accurate and reliable weather prediction.

He added that NiMet is the organization saddled with the responsibility of advising the government and people of Nigeria on every aspect of meteorology including the socio-economic impacts of climate and weather, adding that is why the agency joined the rest of the world to celebrate this year’s 2022 WMO with the poignant theme: ‘Early Warning and Early Action.’

The DG, said: “Hydrometeorological and climate information for disaster risk reduction”, to emphasise the critical role of issuing warnings/forecasts early enough for prompt and early action by various stakeholders.  

“To reduce risks associated with weather related disasters, both National Meteorological (NiMet) and Hydrological (NIHSA) services and Disaster Managers (e.g., NEMA, FEMA & SEMA etc.) must work in synergy.

This will assist in better national prevention, preparedness, and response strategies.

“An example of best practice is the adoption of co-production techniques in the Seasonal Climate Prediction (SCP) of NiMet. Which has over the years served as a multi-stakeholder’s Early Warning Tool. Aside the SCP, NiMet has an array of other products and services which are part of our catalogue of Early Warning Tools. However, these are perishable and must be utilised on time.

“That is why we were encouraged by the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, during the public presentation of the SCP, to rise up, take up NiMet forecast and respond with appropriate actions for resilience, adaptation, and mitigation. He further taught us “be for-told is to be for-equipped” 

As DG/CEO of the agency and Permanent Representative of Nigeria with the world body, he said NiMet, has decided not only to wait for buy-in of stakeholders but also to improve on our infrastructure and creatively disseminate to as many Nigerians as possible.

He said: “Our products, like the high impact weather, heavy rainfall forecast, have found their way to the highest decision-making body of Nigeria, the Federal Executive Council (FEC).

“During the public presentation of the 2022 SCP, we did not just present the Forecast as was our usual practice, but with concerted effort, we presented the translated versions, SCP summary for policy makers, Agrometeorological Bulletin, Climate and Health Bulletin, Marine bulletin, and first of its kind SCP mobile app. 

“Furthermore, in recognition of the importance of the seasonal climate predictions and other early warning products and services, the agency has gone into partnership with government MDAs such as NIMASA and FMARD and non-governmental organisations such as HEDA, APPEALS, IFAD VCDP and LIFE-ND, State Airports such as Asaba and Anambra Airports, and host of others.”

According to him, NiMet, has improved its relationships with sister agencies in the aviation industry for improved service delivery, adding: One of the highlights of 2021 was also the passage of the Repealed NiMet Bill spearheaded by the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika.

Evidently, he said the bill will improve our operations and add regulatory framework for the agency to perform optimally and position the agency for effective weather and climate services for sustainable socio-economic development in the country.

The highpoint of the event of was the presentation of a brand-new Toyota Camry (Limited Edition V6) by the DG/CEO of NiMet, Prof. Matazu to Dr. Gomez in support of fast-tracking the effective coordination of the humongous responsibilities of the WMO in an effective and timely manner in Nigeria and within the subregion.

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