El Niño a threat to SADC

17 Dec 2018 13:20pm
WINDHOEK, 17 DEC (NAMPA) – The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Regional Disaster Preparedness Planning workshop commenced on Monday in the capital to discuss and analyse issues of disaster preparedness and response.
Acting Permanent Secretary (PS) in the Office of the Prime Minister, I-Ben Nashandi opened the three-day workshop, saying the lack of rain in Namibia is of great concern because it is leaving the country and the region dry.
“This should not only be a concern to Namibia, but to SADC as a whole,” he said.
The PS highlighted that some countries in the region are destined for drought or floods caused by the predicted El Niño phenomenon.
El Niño is characterised by unusually warm ocean temperatures in the Pacific Ocean with a global impact on weather patterns that could result in major environmental problems.
Nashandi advised SADC member countries to make use of this joint workshop in order to come up with adequate regional approaches to disaster.
“I would like to urge you to focus more on the activities that will make the difference in the lives of the people other than dwelling too much on the academic side, research and theories,” he said.
Director of Food Agriculture and Natural Resources (FANR) at the SADC Secretariat, Domingos Gove during the workshop also recognised the threat posed by El Niño to the region, noting how the phenomenon brought about the 2015 and 2016 droughts.
“This workshop further recognises the specific key factors shaping this year’s regional preparedness planning being the potential El Niño induced dry spells and drought and disease outbreaks that are already affecting the region such as Ebola in DRC and Hepatitis E in Namibia,” he said.
Gove indicated the El Niño conditions have already caused below normal rainfalls and high temperatures within the October to November period.
He stressed that the December to February period will be similar in terms of rainfall and by implication food production.
The objectives of the workshop is to review national and regional disaster contingency plans for the 2018/19 season with specific focus to implications of the potential El Niño impacts and management of key outbreaks.
The workshop also aims at developing an initial coordination and response monitoring mechanism for tracking seasonal developments.
Furthermore, the training will facilitate sharing of tools, experiences, challenges, best practices and lessons learnt related to disaster preparedness planning in the SADC region.
Gove said they will have to conduct regional technical validation of key strategic Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) documents under development in support of the SADC Regional DRR programme.