Early warning systems are not available to about 60% of Africans, who must deal with extreme weather and climate change. That is according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

Realizing the importance of early warnings and early action, António Guterres, the Secretary-General of the United Nations 2022, has tasked WMO with leading the effort to achieve the ambitious goal of having enough early warning services in place to cover the entire global population within the next five years.

By attempting to close observational gaps and assisting in the development and reinforcement of Members’ capacities to issue early warnings and to act on those warnings, WMO will lead this initiative in close cooperation with important partners.

“I take this opportunity to congratulate the experts from the region and worldwide for leading the scientific coordination and authorship of this report and thank WMO Members and our sister United Nations agencies for their continuous commitment to supporting this publication by providing input and by contributing to the report review process,” Prof. Petteri Taalas, Secretary-General, WMO.

This was mentioned in the WMO-published 2021 State of Africa Climate Report.

According to Prof. Taalas, a number of high-impact events that affected Africa in 2021—including prolonged droughts, significant floods, and tropical cyclones—were exacerbated by ongoing conflicts, economic slowdowns and downturns, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic.

These events threatened food security, caused population displacement, and caused devastation that hindered socioeconomic development.

“It is imperative for the continent to accelerate efforts to establish robust regional and national early warning systems and climate services for climate-sensitive sectors in order to strengthen climate resilience and adaptation capacities.”

Prof. Taalas stated that during its 75th session in June 2022, the WMO Executive Council approved a strategy and measures for improving the visibility, effectiveness, and implementation of the Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS).

According to him, the strategy and measures are made to address the adaptation priorities in the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to the Paris Agreement made by African countries, such as agriculture and food security, disaster risk reduction, water resource management, health, and energy.

“Through a partnership with the Green Climate Fund, WMO will support African countries to increase their access to climate finance by ensuring that adaptation investments incorporate climate science information and measures to strengthen hydrometeorological systems and services.”

Prof. Taalas also mentioned that the observing systems managed by WMO and its partner organizations are used to determine the climate in Africa. The Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) defines a broader set of Essential Climate Variables (ECVs) that are needed to monitor the global climate and support efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change. The WMO Integrated Global Observing System (WIGOS) provides basic weather and climate information.

“While the evidence for climate change in Africa is unequivocal, the most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports show that there remain significant gaps in the observation of some variables over the continent, particularly precipitation, but also the basic variables defined in the WMO Global Basic Observing Network (GBON).

“GBON and the Systematic Observations Financing Facility that supports it will provide critically needed observations for numerical weather prediction and will help substantially strengthen climate monitoring and early warning systems.”

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