AU sets up Nairobi status room to help Africa mitigate disasters

With the Earth warming and weather events becoming more extreme, the African Union has called on Nairobi to help monitor key threats and provide regional early warnings for drought, flooding, extreme rainfall, food insecurity and pests such as the desert locust. A Disaster Management Center has been set up in ,

Major floods have become more common in Africa and show how vulnerable the continent is to climate change, even though it is the least producer of greenhouse gas emissions in the world.

To deal with such disasters, the African Union has established a centralized surveillance and early warning system for the continent. The Nairobi Disaster Operations Center for the East African Region is the continent’s first weather “status room”.

“The Council of Ministers within the member states sat down and said we needed a disaster operations center in Nairobi, which would focus primarily on early warning systems,” said Julie Oma, a geographic information systems analyst at the Intergovernmental Authority on Development. Said, or IGAD, Nairobi. “So, this led to the establishment of this office so that we look at the broader aspects of the various disasters within the region.”

The center – located at the IGAD Climate Prediction and Application Center – uses East Africa Hazards Watch, a system developed by the center to collect and share multi-hazard data with member countries.

“The system works automatically so that it enters the data set,” Ouma said, adding, “We have a super computing system within ICPAC, so there is less human attachment to it. It’s closer to real time.” So, every 10 days it automatically updates and then we see drought conditions.”

The center provides climate information and early warnings to 11 East African countries. Officials say local communities should be prepared for a quick response to save lives and minimize damage.

“Therefore, we must equip communities to be able to respond to a disaster, at least in the first hours,” said Amjad Abbashar, Africa’s regional director at the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction. “And so, I think that in order to set up these early warning systems and make sure it’s functional, and that people who are vulnerable to disasters are able to access that information in a timely manner, life and To protect property.”

The Status Room in Nairobi covers and reports on droughts and floods. Another in Niger, which is set to open this month, will monitor for extreme rains and cyclones. The information collected at both sites will be distributed by the Status Room at AU Headquarters in Addis Ababa.

“We are responding to a very complex situation,” said Gatkuoth Kai, technical coordinator for disaster risk reduction at the Africa Union Commission. “Over the years, we have seen disasters increasingly borderless. But even when a threat is localised, intensity easily dominates the national response. And in this situation, Pan African solidarity is needed. Therefore, This situation room is going to facilitate that African solidarity.”

As Africa experiences more extreme weather, officials say early warning and early action will help limit its impact.


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