Urgent action needed to tackle climate change as extreme weather catastrophes mount

There is greater urgency for climate action in light of the severity, frequency and rate of climate-related disruptions across the world and in Africa, Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) Executive Secretary, Ms. Vera Songwe, said Thursday.

In a speech read on her behalf at the first annual African Ministerial Conference on Meteorology (AMCOMET) Africa Hydromet 2017 Forum in Addis Ababa, Ms. Songwe said Africa’s capacity to meet such events with stiff resistance is limited due to the absence of information, climate smart infrastructure and relevant resources that can be readily deployed to insulate people, lives and livelihoods from such catastrophes.

“The clock is ticking and Africa must marshal all its resources, energies, and innovations towards a change that will transform the socioeconomic conditions of its people,” she said.

Climate change, Ms. Songwe said, offers Africa the opportunity to transition towards a development model that will foster growth, preserve the environment and offer opportunities to its people using a low carbon growth model.

“This, in essence, means that we need to have a plan and a strategy that will support local, national and regional action in turning climate change to our advantage. Therefore, our starting point is to recognise that we cannot build climate resilience outside the parameters and blueprint of Agenda 2063 and the 2030 sustainable development goals,” she added.

Climate resilience is not only a conduit for achieving Agenda 2063 and the 2030 Agenda, the Executive Secretary said, adding ‘it extends the main tenets of these frameworks in its bid to thread economic growth and environmental preservation as the most vivid manifestation of our collective humanity’.

Africa’s growth, she said, depends heavily on climate sensitive sectors and natural resources.

Ms. Songwe said hurricane Irma and Harvey and the catastrophic mudslides in Sierra Leone, which led to untold destruction and loss of lives, detonate the harsh reality that urgency is needed in tackling climate extremes.

“It is simply not enough to perceive climate change, variability and extreme events as an add-on to a litany of pressing world problems. We must see climate change and its negative manifestations as an opportunity to rethink our growth model, not as a standalone, but as part of our life support system. In short, growth is not antithetical to environmental preservation,” she added.

ECA Support

Ms. Songwe said the ECA, through its Climate Policy Centre (ACPC) with the support of its partners, has been supporting member States since 2011 in the development of climate policy, strategies and action plan formulation as well as in enhancing their capacity to plan and respond to climate challenges.

Several programs have been developed since, including the ECA, African Union Commission (AUC) and African Development Bank (AfDB) tripartite consortium – the ClimDev-Africa, aimed at strengthening hydromet information services, analytical analysis of climate impacts on key economic sectors and opportunities arising from climate change; and the Weather and Climate Information Services for Africa (WISER) aimed at creating and enabling environment for climate information services uptake and use in development planning and investments.

European Union Ambassador, Ranieri Sabatucci, also spoke in the ministerial segment of the Hydromet Forum.

He said Earth Observation hi-tech infrastructure and knowledge are a key priority for the EU, adding huge resources had been invested in this field both in Europe and Africa.

“There are many reasons for our key interest in these technologies, but importantly we believe that they will deliver vast benefits and advancements, including for instance, our collective ability to manage and address challenges brought upon us by global warming,” said Mr. Sabatucci, adding the dream of building climate resilience by better access to and managing climate information was becoming a reality.

AUC Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, Ms. Josefa Lionel Sacko, speaking on behalf of Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat, said the services of hydromet, which is modernizing weather, water and climate services, are what the continent need to realise the goals and aspirations of Agenda 2063.

The Forum, which brought together African ministers and experts in climate, meteorology and related services, ends Friday.

Distributed by APO on behalf of United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA).

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Committee adopts task team report and its recommenations

The Minister of Health Dr. Aaron Motsoaledi and the top management of the Department of Health appeared before the Portfolio Committee on Health yesterday to present officially to the Committee the report of the Ministerial Task Team on the task of probing service delivery in the selected hospitals in the country where service delivery challenges were identified.
In July 2015, Dr. Motsoaledi appointed a high level five-member task team to investigate the state of affairs at the identified hospitals in the country.
Members of the task team are, Prof Ronald Green-Thomson, the former Head of Department (HOD) at the University of KwaZulu Natal’s Department of Health, Dr. Ralph, the former HOD of Department of the Gauteng Provincial Government’s Department of Health, Prof Keith Craig Househam, the former HOD of the Department of Health in the Free State Provincial Government and in the Western Cape Provincial Government, Ms Nomvula Marawa the former Director of Policy, Planning & Coordination in the national Department of Health and Professor Rezaul Karim who is the Head of Procurement Support at the South African Revenue Services.
The task team visited 25 hospitals in Six Provinces and made findings with recommendations which Dr Motsoaledi presented to the Committee yesterday. Members of the Committee received and adopted the report with all its findings and recommendations.
According to the findings the task team identified four main areas of concern and those areas are, Human Resources; Supply Chain Management, Financial Management and Maintenance of Infrastructure and equipment.
Dr Motsoaledi emphasised that the four main areas identified fall within the provincial competency and there is no provision of concurrency. Dr Motsoaledi made a recommendation to the Committee to adopt the report and its recommendations and use it as part of its oversight programme whenever the committee visits provinces to assess the state of health facilities.
The Committee has resolved to work tirelessly in ensuring that all the 25 recommendations that are contained in the report are fully implemented without delay as they have far-reaching direct negative impact on the delivery of health care services in the country.
“We as Members of Parliament want all South Africans to work together in ensuring that quality care services are delivered to the people and therefore we will ensure that all the administrative and technical stumbling blocks are resolved immediately. The delivery of effective health care services to all our people is a constitutional right,” said the Chairperson of the Committee Ms Mary-Anne Dunjwa.

Distributed by APO on behalf of Republic of South Africa: The Parliament.

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European Union Election Observation Mission to Liberia deploys long-term observers

The European Union has deployed an Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) to Liberia to observe the Presidential and House of Parliament Elections on the 10th of October. Today the EU Election Observation Mission has deployed 20 long-term observers to the regions.
“This election is a historical moment for Liberia”, said Deputy Chief Observer Alessandro Parziale. “The European Union Election Observation Mission will monitor the process without interfering or supervising. I hope that our team of analysts and observers will contribute with impartial and objective assessments to a democratic transition in Liberia.”
The EU EOM arrived with a Deputy Chief Observer and Core Team of 8 analysts on the 31st of August in Monrovia. This group of experts consists of election, political, legal, human rights and gender, finance, media and data analysts. On the 4th of September the team met with the Chairman, Co-Chairman and Commissioners of the National Election Commission of Liberia (NEC) and launched the Mission officially. Since then the EU EOM had several meetings with Liberian authorities and groups including Ministries, Journalists and civil Society organisations as well as the Delegation of the European Union to Liberia.
A group of 20 long-term observers joined the EU EOM on the 10th of September and will be deployed today to different parts of Liberia to follow the electoral preparations and campaigns. The EU Election Observers come from 20 different Member States of the European Union. They will stay in Liberia beyond election day. Additionally 34 short-term observers will be deployed throughout the country together with locally recruited short-term observers.
“The EU EOM will assess the elections according to Liberia’s national law and the international commitments it has made regarding elections. It will focus on the entire electoral process, including the legal framework, electoral administration, voter registration, nominations, campaigning, the conduct of the media, voting and the counting, the tally of results and dispute resolution mechanisms”, explains Deputy Chief Observer Alessandro Parziale. All EU EOM observers are bound by a code of conduct, which requires strict neutrality and non-interference. The EU EOM undertakes its work in accordance with the Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation. It will publish its initial findings in a preliminary statement, which will be presented in a press conference shortly after election day. A Final Report with recommendations to the public will be presented at a later stage.

Distributed by APO on behalf of European Union Election Observation Mission.

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IMC on Social Security to Brief on Progress of the New Payment System for Social Grants

The IMC on Social Security led by Minister of Social Development, Ms Bathabile Dlamini, will hold a media briefing to update the country on the progress of the new payment system for social grants.

Members of the media are invited to a briefing as follows:
Date: Friday, 15 September 2017
Time: 10h00
Venue: 1035 Tshedimosetso House – Cnr Frances Baard and Festival streets in Hatfield, Pretoria – Gauteng Province.

Note: There will be a video link at GCIS Imbizo Media Centre – Parliament, 120 Plein Street in Cape Town.

Minister Bathabile Dlamini and SASSA will be filing their second report on the progress of the payment of social grants to the Constitutional Court on Friday, September 15 2017.

In March this year, the Constitutional Court ordered the Minister of Social Development and SASSA to file quarterly reports on SASSA’s progress to take over the payment of social grants.

Media RSVPs should be forwarded to Mr Justice Malapane- 079 497 7426 / JusticeD@dsd.gov.za or Mr Takalani Mukwevho on 082 227 9308 / Takalanim@gcis.gov.za.

Distributed by APO on behalf of Republic of South Africa: Department of Government Communication and Information.

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