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World must invest now to counter impact of extreme weather from global warning – UN

World must invest now to counter impact of extreme weather from global warning – UN

Citing one of the worst cyclone seasons in recent memory in Madagascar as an example, the United Nations body that seeks to mitigate the impact of natural disasters called on the international community to invest more in programme to reduce the effects of extreme weather spawned by global warming.

“We need to put in place mechanisms that can help our societies adapt to this new situation,” UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR) Director Sálvano Briceño said of the impact of climate change, ascribed largely to human activities such as the emission of heat trapping gasses from the use of fossil fuels.

“The Hyogo Framework for Action adopted in Kobe, Japan in 2005 offers recommendations that should be implemented and can be effective to reduce disaster risks caused by climate-related hazards,” he added, referring to the Hyogo Framework for Action: 2005 – 2015, adopted by 168 Governments at the UN World Conference on Disaster Reduction in Kobe.

What is currently happening in Madagascar is a good illustration of what can happen in many countries, with more than 6 cyclones since December, over 60 people dead and thousands forced to leave their flooded homes, Mr. Briceño stressed.

“The increased severity and frequency of extreme weather events prevents people from recovering before facing the next event, making them more vulnerable to disasters. This changing pattern will require increased investment in risk reduction activities,” he said.

People in Madagascar are well prepared to face cyclones, and the country has strong national mechanisms in place, he noted. A national platform for disaster risk reduction has been operating since 2002 and has put in place mechanisms to alert and educate people on all types of hazards. But the unusual number of cyclones makes the situation extremely difficult.

In November, Madagascar’s National Bureau on Disaster Reduction put in place a programme of sand bags that seems to have protected many houses from destruction. The bags were placed on top of the roofs to reduce wind impacts, saving a lot of people. “But we could not avoid the intensity of rains,” Bureau Executive Secretary Jacky Randriaharison said. “Soils were completely saturated and many people died because of mud and debris avalanches that could not be stopped.”

Last month the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned that it is very likely that more hot extremes, heat waves and heavy rainfall will become more frequent, with tropical cyclones, such as typhoons and hurricanes, turning more intense.

In some parts of the world, climate change will mean more intense and frequent hazards, in others, it will mean facing hazards that communities have not encountered before.