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Africa leaders urged to address early disaster warning

Ghana’s Minister for Communications and Digitalization, Mrs. Ursula Owusu-Ekuful has expressed grave concerns over lack of effectiveness in implementing measures for early warning and disaster risk reduction on the continent.

Speaking at the 19th Session of the World Meteorological Organization Congress in Geneva, Mrs. Owusu-Ekuful said the rate of Early Warning implementation is much lower in Africa than any other Region; with approximately 60% of people in Africa not having access to Early Warning System to cope with extreme weather and climate change, as per the WMO’s 2021 State of the Climate Report for Africa.

“This exacerbates the risk for African people, and this situation should not be allowed to persist,” she stated.

The Ghanaian minister, therefore, called proactive measures by the leaders on the continent to protect their people through the Early Warning system using modern digital technology. She said advancements in technology, like satellite monitoring, have enabled NMHSs to predict weather conditions with increased accuracy, enabling authorities to provide more specific, localized warnings to people in affected areas.

She further noted that the integration of technologies, social media, apps, text messages, and push notifications make it easier for authorities to reach out to individuals in a more targeted and timely manner in emergency situations.

“Leveraging these technologies are part of our strategy to mitigate the gaps in access to early warning to provide timely weather services. The Ghana Meteorological Agency’s “My Flood Risk Accra App” which provides real-time flood and weather alerts for our capital city, was launched in August 2021. The app informs citizens about their exposure to flood risks for early preparedness and early action,” she stated.

Ghana and other African countries continue to have challenges with the Early Warning system as extreme weather conditions escalate globally.

An estimated 3.6 billion people live in conditions that make them highly vulnerable to climate variability and change, and Africa is the second hardest hit by floods and hydrometeorological phenomenon.

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