Kenya is playing host to the IGAD Climate Prediction and Applications Centre (ICPAC), which will provide climate services and early warnings to 11 East African countries, with the inauguration expected to harness innovative technology to advance climate works.
The Centre which is situated in Kibiko area, Kajiado West, will be a designated regional climate center by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and will provide climate services and early warnings to 11 East African countries with the inauguration expected to highly accelerate climate solutions.
As part of the center’s launch, a Disaster Operations Center was established, with a situation room that would monitor major hazards and provide regional early warnings for drought, floods, extreme rainfall, food insecurity, or pests like the desert locust.
In her speech during the launch, Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary (CS) Amb. Raychelle Omamo lauded IGAD for the ICPAC Centre and highlighted its benefits for member states, through predictions that would help in solving challenges caused by climate change.
“The opening of the IGAD Climate Predictions and Application Center is a milestone, not only for the IGAD region but the continent of Africa. I thought about how visionary the IGAD Member States came together in the name of development and understanding that we are a climate challenged region, a water-stressed zone, a zone of food insecurity and resource-based conflicts,” said CS Omamo.
According to IGAD Executive Secretary, Workneh Gebeyehu, the launch of this Center is timely and calls upon stakeholders to adopt appropriate and innovative approaches for climate change and adaptation.
“What is most regrettable in the current climate change discourse, is that the focus is on either shifting blame to whoever is considered to be the most responsible for degrading our planet, or engaging in ‘Disaster Olympics’, competing for whom has been most affected,” said Gebeyehu.
He, however, reinforced that what is being ignored is that climate change is impassive, indiscriminate and universally disempowering, it will neither recognize nor respect the status, size, wealth or even military power of any given country.
Also present at the launch, ICPAC’S Director, Guleid Artan, emphasized the importance of providing early warnings of potential natural disasters, during a time when the world is experiencing extreme climate change.
“In times of climate extremes and increased intensity and frequency of hazards, it is key to provide quality climate services and early warnings. Climate doesn’t stop at borders and having strong intergovernmental institutions, able to provide early warnings is key,” said Artan.
The launch of the climate center as a way to enhance earth monitoring systems, open data access and a multi-hazards early warning system comes in the wake of the global COP26 Summit, set to be held later next month.
The opening of the situation room follows the launch of East Africa Hazards Watch system by ICPAC in July, to meet the growing need for public and cross-border risk information due to increasing climate extremes.
The system, the first of its kind in Africa, allows tracking climate hazards increasing in frequency and intensity due to climate change.
President Kenyatta who graced the launch albeit virtually noted that indeed, the establishment of this Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the IGAD Climate Prediction and Applications Centre, has been a response to the recurring droughts and other natural disasters in our region.’’
By Alice Gworo