Friday, March 19, 2010

Gambia Hosts Sub- Regional Meeting on Meteorology and Hydrology

NEWS BANJUL THE GAMBIA(MB)_A meeting to discuss progress on the implementation of the cooperation agreement between the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) and the Spanish Meteorological Services in West Africa was held recently at the Kairaba Beach Hotel.
Participants were drawn from Nigeria, Senegal, Guinea Bissau, Ghana, and Guinea Conakry, The Gambia, among other countries in West Africa, who focused on cooperation and collaboration to fight climate change in West Africa, especially those sharing similar climate patterns.
The meeting was funded by the Meteorological Agency of the Kingdom of Spain, which is giving invaluable support to the meteorological services in the sub-region, according to officials.
Works Minister Lamin Bojang, addressing participants at the opening ceremony on behalf of Minister of Water Resources, assured participants that The Gambia was pleased to host such a forum.
“It is a great honour and privilege to be associated with this meeting of the World Meteorological Organisation, heads of meteorological services in West Africa and the Meteorological Agency of the Kingdom of Spain in one conference hall”. He continued:
“I am, therefore, delighted to note that The Gambia has been given its rightful place as a member of WMO, as evidenced by holding of this important meeting on its soil, barely three years following the inception of the cooperation agreement between WMO, the Meteorological Agency of the Kingdom of Spain and meteorological services in West Africa”.
According to Mr. Bojang, the cooperation agreement among countries should be taken with the utmost seriousness, as the very survival of their communities depends on how countries utilized the climate resources for their benefit.
Minister Bojang added that statistics over the last decade show that over 80 percent of all natural disasters are climate related, adding that more than 65 percent of losses and nearly 90 percent of people were attributed to climate hazards.
Unfortunately, the Minister said, the burden of the associated impacts falls disproportionately on developing countries, and on the poorest communities.
In a country such as The Gambia, livelihoods depend on climate-sensitive activities such as agriculture, forestry, fisheries, tourism, Mr. Bojang further noted.
It is, therefore, easy to know why weather and climate issues are of paramount importance to the Gambia, and to all other of countries in the sub-region.
“We in the Gambia are much concerned with the current and future state of the climate because, in spite of our well meaning efforts to achieve our National Vision 2020, alleviate poverty and meet the Millennium Development Goals”, climate change can undermine our efforts and constitutes a major threat to sustainable development and progress”, he said.
Holding this meeting in Banjul, Minister Bojang said, was timely. He re-iterated the government’s support to the meteorological services in various areas, citing staff training, deployment of state-of-the-art equipment, and the capacity to deliver relevant, accessible and user-friendly weather and climate information to communities at the local level, as well to decision makers in government and elsewhere.
According to the Minister, many countries are aware that climate change is one of the greatest challenges that humankind is faced with in this modern world, adding that it is a global concern in which both rich and poor nations are affected by its impacts.
He went on to point out that some countries, particularly in the developed world, now treat climate change as a national security concern.
The justification for such a position is not difficult to explain, taking examples of intense precipitation, drought, storm, winds etc. all threatening livelihoods and lives on a daily basic as well as undermining past achievements, he added.
The Gambia’s representative at the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), Bernard Gomez, noted that the meeting is timely and important to all the stakeholders that are involved in the meteorological services.
He added that experts that are involved in the meteorological services are aware of the dangers that climate change poses to the communities in the region.
The Spanish Ambassador to The Gambia, Javier Benoso, hailed the Gambia government for accepting to host the meeting. Among the speakers was Alioune Ndiaye, the WMO Regional Director for Africa, who also thanked the Spanish Meteorological Agency for funding the meeting.

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