My biggest takeaway was the “Making Global Issues Local” presentation by Diana Njeru – Project Director, BBC Media Action, Nairobi. She immaculately simplified how to create awareness of climate change in local and indigenous communities whilst also adhering to their cultures and way of life. The presentation is one that can be applied in any community by using media to portray significant messages.
This resonates deeply with me because my work is mostly in local communities and villages where I work with local farmers in drought-prone regions, providing them with alternative ways of sustainable agriculture through agro-ecology and climate smart practices.
Participants also brought stones from individual home countries, a symbol that signifies how climate change is affecting them. Renowned South African contemporary artist, Hanneli Coetzee, cut these into unique shapes and transformed them into a magnificent work of art.
These talks were disrupted by the cyclone that hit Mozambique, causing major concern for climate resilience and disaster preparedness plans. Cyclone Idai ripped through villages and towns in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe, taking over 1,000 lives and leaving a trail of destruction. With winds of 195 km/h accompanied by lashing rains, Idai has already affected millions of people, causing floods, landslides and ruining crops and roads.
More than two million people could have been affected across Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe, and the real death tolls may not be known for many months as the countries deal with a still-unfolding disaster. The port city of Beira, in Mozambique, was hit the hardest, with nearly 80% of homes and public infrastructures destroyed.
This kind of catastrophic disaster stresses for the urgent need to have effective, standardized and accurate meteorological and hydrological services in Africa that can actively forecast weather patterns to support early action and enable better management of risks. Improvement of services, expertise and professionalism in this sector will ensure climate and weather information is applied to build resilience.
Cyclone Idai in its terrors shows that Africa is not immune to natural disasters; and only the worst can be expected from the rapid increase in climate crises worldwide. Tim Donovan, Senior International Development Manager, Met Office, UK and one of the presenters at the Wilton Park’s dialogue stated that “Cyclone Idai is a demonstration of what the current climate can do to Africa. The minimum response should be to increase resilience to the current climate, of which Idai is the most current example. I think drought events are also well evidenced and can be just as impactful. A better response would be to increase resilience to a future climate that is well understood by IPCC projections and available through Met Services.”