Early Warnings For All Action Plan for Africa is launched

Wednesday, September 13, 2023 - 02:10

Nairobi, Kenya, 4 September 2023 (WMO) -

A new Early Warnings for All Action Plan for Africa is one of the most ambitious and comprehensive initiatives ever launched to save lives and livelihoods on a continent which is regularly exposed to extreme weather and which bears a disproportionate socio-economic cost of climate change.

The action plan was unveiled on the opening day of the Africa Climate Summit in Nairobi, Kenya, on 4 September.

The primary objective is to make sure that timely and accurate information about natural hazards and impending disasters reaches all segments of African society, particularly the most vulnerable. This answers the call of United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres that every person worldwide must protected by early warning systems by 2027. A number of African countries have been identified for priority action in the global initiative.

“Africa is one of the world’s most susceptible continents to the negative impacts of climate change. Severe floods, droughts, tropical cyclones, storms, and heatwaves are undermining the socio-economic advancements achieved by the continent,” said WMO Secretary-General Prof. Petteri Taalas.

“Between 1970 and 2021, Africa accounted for 35% of weather, climate, and water-related fatalities. Yet, only 40% of the African population has access to early warning systems – the lowest rate of any region of the world. This new Early Warnings for All Action Plan for Africa seeks to change that,” said Prof. Taalas.

The socio-economic impacts of extreme weather and climate change were highlighted in WMO’s State of the Climate in Africa 2022 report, which was also released at the Africa Climate Summit on 4 September.

“The greatest injustice of the climate crisis is that people who have contributed the least are paying the highest price in lives and livelihoods. Six out of every 10 persons in Africa are not protected by effective early warning systems, the most basic tool to save lives and protect livelihoods ahead of a disaster. Implementation of the Secretary General’s bold vision to ensure that everyone is covered by an effective early warning system by 2027 must be at the top of the global agenda. The EW4ALL Africa Action Plan is Africa's roadmap to achieve this goal and must be supported by all,” said Selwin Hart, Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Climate Action and Just Transition

Early Warning Systems provide more than a tenfold return on investment. Just 24 hours’ notice of an impending hazardous event can cut the ensuing damage by 30 per cent. The Global Commission on Adaptation found that spending just US$800 million on such systems in developing countries would avoid losses of $3 to 16 billion per year.

“The Early Warning for All in Africa Action Plan is a comprehensive effort to strengthen early warning systems across Africa. By focusing on monitoring, capacity building, communication, and community engagement, the initiative aims to enhance disaster preparedness, increase public awareness, and promote regional cooperation. Ultimately, it strives to save lives, protect livelihoods, and build a more resilient Africa,” said Mami Mizutori, the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction, and head of the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR).