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East Africa countries seek funds to curb El Nino effects

22 October 2015, 11:42

Nairobi - East African countries said Wednesday they are facing financial constraints to help mitigate impact of El Nino whose effects are already being felt in some regions.

The Inter-Government Authority on Development (IGAD) through their specialized institution IGAD Climate Predictions and Applications Centre (ICPAC) called on for financial support from development partners.

Somalia Minister for Agriculture Said Mohammed Ali told the two-day forum which kicked off in Kenyan town of Naivasha that the effects of the weather conditions were already being felt in his country.

Ali identified the Southern part of the country as the most affected adding that they were seeking funds for mitigation measures.

"Some of the regions need tents, food, medicine and clean water and we are asking development partners to chip in," he said.

Ali said though they had done public awareness campaigns there was urgent need to rehabilitate various canals in the country to avoid flooding.

The consultative meeting, which falls under the ICPAC Greater Horn of Africa Climate Outlook Forums (GHACOFs), brought together climate scientists, communication experts, policy makers including ministers of finance and ministers responsible for disaster risk management from the Greater Horn of Africa.

ICPAC is the specialised IGAD institution based in Nairobi, mandated to provide timely climate early warning information, which covers IGAD members' states as well as Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi.

Read Also: MP threatens to sue weatherman for wrong El nino prediction

Other countries that face the financial constraints to place mitigation measures include Somalia, Ethiopia, Rwanda, South Sudan and Sudan.

Uganda's Commissioner of Department of Disaster Preparedness and Management in Uganda Martin Owor said they have exhausted their contingency funds and were seeking support from donors.

He said of funds allocated to the department, 35 percent went to disaster management adding that this had been used on emerging issues.

"We have already exhausted our contingency funds and as we address El Nino we should not forget La Nina from June next year which could lead to drought," he said.

The director of meteorology in South Sudan Mojwok Ogawi Modo said that his government had set aside 400,000 U.S. dollars for mitigation.

"We have bought eleven metric tonnes of food items but this is not enough and we are engaging development partners for more support," he said.

The meeting came as aid agencies have warned of the Sub-Saharan Africa region is at risk of acute hunger as food production situation is set to further worsen with the looming El Nino.

The agencies say a series of climatic shocks in 2014 and 2015 decimated harvests, leaving many people dependent on food aid to survive.

Floods and drought in southern Africa resulted in significant declines in maize production, the regional staple. But the agency warned that the worst is yet to come.

The El-Nino climate phenomenon, characterized by a warming in the Pacific Ocean, is set to strengthen over the coming months and persist into 2016. When El Nino occurs, rainfall patterns shift, increasing the risk of extreme weather events.

Read Also: Government's extravagance to blame for the latest spate of cash crunch

Kenya's Director National Disaster Operations Center Nathan Kigotho said a total budget of 163 million dollars had been reached to deal with the effects of the El Nino rains.

Kigotho noted that county governments were supposed to contribute 59 million dollars to the exercise with the government adding the rest.

"We have already set aside 49 million dollars as contingency funds and we have a deficit of 98 million dollars which we are seeking from the development partners," he said.

Sudan General directorate of foreign finance Gamay Eissa admitted that there were major gaps among IGAD member countries that needed to be addressed.

"We thank IGAD for the support given over the coming El Nino but there is need to formulate plans to address the effects of the rains," he said.

Rwanda senior environment management center expert Fred Nzasabimana challenged IGAD member countries to be pro-active and take advantage of the El Nino by tapping water and opening up dams.

"Despite facing financial challenges we should prepare ourselves ahead of El Nino which will definitely have effects on our economies," he said.

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- Xinhua

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