By Mafugi Ceesay
The second ECOWAS hydromet forum is underway in The Gambia at a local hotel in Bijilo.
The three-day meeting, which began on Tuesday organised by the ECOWAS Commission in partnership with the Department of Water Resources of The Gambia, CILLS, WMO, World Bank, African Development Bank, is expected to last until Thursday.
The Banjul meeting, according to the organisers, is to consolidate on the achievements of the first ECOWAS hydromet forum held in Abidjan.
The synergy is organised mainly to emphasize regional leadership to strengthen weather, water and climate services in their global public good function for climate risk management, climate adaptation and disaster risk management, among other objectives.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, the ECOWAS Commissioner for Social Affairs Dr. Siga Fatimah Jagne, disasters emanating from hydrological and climatological hazards such as floods, coastal erosion and drought among others have resulted in to serious destruction of basic infrastructures, disruption of livelihood in the coastal areas, urban cities and communities in our regions.
Dr Siga further stated that during the last three decades, over 75 percent of West African’s population live in areas affected at least once in every two years by flood, dust/sandstorm and drought. Hundreds of people and their livelihoods in West African countries are periodically exposed to at least one disaster event caused by vulnerability to natural hazards. Women typically outnumber men among those affected by and dying from natural disasters; often because of cultural and behavioral restrictions on women’s mobility and socially ascribed roles and responsibilities (eg caring for young, elderly or sick household members.
Minister of Fisheries, water resources, climate and national assembly maters, James Gomez explained that weather, climate and water-related hazards such as floods, drought, dry spells, winds and dust storms constitute around 90% of the natural disasters in The Gambia.
He said with the frequency and intensity of hazards, The Gambia has been faced with numerous capacity challenges to overcome the situation. This also is closely related with clash of interest over resources, weakened social cohesion, and inadequate interest in environmental issues.
Furthermore, The Gambia is improving on its overall risk governance and management structures through the finalization of a national emergency operations plan with combined standard operations.