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  • Africa 'spearheading' solutions to climate change

African countries are spearheading ways to tackle climate change and have important lessons for how others can cope in future, says a soon to be released report.

The report by the the African Union, African Development Bank, UN Economic Commission for Africa and the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS), shows how certain countries are integrating climate information into development and planning. This helps them to manage climate risks such as flood and drought.

It highlights little-known initiatives underway in parts of Africa, and will be presented to leaders at the African Union summit in Addis Ababa this month.

Case studies from five different countries and regions — Ethiopia, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique and Southern Africa — illustrate strategies that could be adopted more widely.

Governments can look to these examples for reducing risks due to climate. The situation in Mali, for example, is representative of the Sahel region. It shows how selecting different crops and varying planting dates according to rainfall predictions can help ensure adequate food is produced.

A key component of all the strategies is the linking of early warning and risk management systems to regional and local practitioners such as healthcare providers and farmers.

Government departments and the media also have an important role to play, particularly in getting information to rural areas.

The report identifies gaps in knowledge and communication, describing how meteorological information is not fully exploited, and farmers are often unaware of products available to help them cope with climate change.

Molly Hellmuth, of the International Research Institute for Climate and Society, who helped publish the report, said it would showcase "the best and brightest examples of how Africans are adapting to climate variability not tomorrow, but today, which will surely help them be better prepared for climate change".

The publication supports a new GCOS African-led initiative, GCOS-Africa Climate for Development 2007, which aims to integrate climate information into development planning.

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