NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 21 – Time has come for Africa to efficiently monitor and manage its environment if it’s is to realise sustainable development, Inter Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Executive Secretary, Mahboub Maalim, has said.
Mr Maalim who was speaking during the opening of a regional environmental workshop on Wednesday said Africans could no longer ignore the adverse climatic changes that the continent had witnessed in the recent past because of environmental degradation.
He said African leaders needed to include environmental matters in their countries’ mainstream agendas.
“Everything has been said and done; there is nothing new to say. What remains now is to reinvigorate our political commitments and make sure that we now accept to move into the way forward. As they say in West Africa, the chicken has come home to roost- the reality has caught up with us,” he said.
He added that the transfer of environmental research data into action would help the continent’s leaders make proper decisions and enhance capacity building.
“This is highly scientific data that most of us cannot be able to understand (that raw data from satellite imagery sources) but if that data is not transferred into usability to people who need to know then it is meaningless,” he argued.
Mr Maalim who cited studies conducted in Africa showing effects of climatic changes on Africa also said that IGAD had finalised on its Minimum Integration Plan (MIP) which would form the backbone of its decision making processes.
“In the last 100 years in Kenya alone there were 28 droughts, 15 floods and we are talking about marked serious droughts and floods. The worst five in each of these have happened in the last 15 years and in each of these again the Kenyan government declared a national emergency,” he said.
On his part, Kenya Meteorological Department Director Joseph Mukabana decried the poverty in most African countries that prevented them from properly monitoring environmental changes as they occurred.
“In Africa it is not easy. The European Union came up with the Preparation for the Use of the Meteosat Second Generation in Africa (PUMA) project to monitor especially severe weather and climate events. Our worry is that out of the 48 least developed countries in the world 34 are in Africa so how are they going to maintain these PUMA stations?” he posed.
Minister for Environment John Michuki (in a speech read by his assistant Ramadhan Kajembe) said the IGAD region (comprised of Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda) was one of the most water scarce and food insecure in the world.
“It is indeed a recipient of about 40 percent of the annual global food aid. Some of the region’s natural resources are at times shared by communities and nations which at times leads to inter-community conflicts over the said resources,” he said.
Although the minister commended the financial assistance provided through the European Development Fund (EDF) to the East African region, he complained about the amount.
“The African Monitoring of Environment for Sustainable Development (AMESD) Programme for the whole continent was being funded at a total cost of €21 million although the IGAD project only received a €1.8 million grant for an implementation period of three years,” he observed.
The workshop marks the official start of the regional action on land degradation and natural habitat conservation, paving way for the three year implementation of the regional action plan.