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[Maputo] African scientists need to be empowered and supported if they are to aid government decision-making on climate change adaptation, says Mozambican scientist Filipe Lucio.

He was speaking at the Science in Africa Symposium, ahead of the 29th General Assembly of the International Council for Science (ICSU) meeting in Maputo, Mozambique, yesterday (20 October).

Lucio, the senior scientific officer for the World Meteorological Organization's Disaster Risk Reduction Programme, said it is already too late to reverse the damage done to the environment and the world is on course to see dramatic climate change until at least 2090.

He said African governments must heed the advice of scientists who understand the changes and could help nations adapt.

"Governments can empower scientists in their meteorological services who will help them make informed decisions about the future and the impact of climate change on natural resources, agriculture and other areas," he said.

The concept of scientists playing a part in informing government policies is an issue close to the heart of Mozambique's minister of science and technology Venancio Massingue, says the ministry's national director António Leão.

"To give scientists a voice in Mozambique, we have two meetings a year — the first in February is a 'harmonisation' meeting that looks at the funds available and identifies priorities. The second meeting, in November, is an 'assessment' to see how things have gone during the year," Leão explains.

The objective is to identify the country's science minds and ensure there is a forum to hear their ideas and solutions to common problems.

"Countries in Africa, like Mozambique, who are not the culprits, are going to be the biggest victims [of climate change]," Lucio said. He warns that malaria will affect more people as the parasite's life cycle speeds up and mosquitoes spread into areas that were previously unaffected as global warming increases.

Science and technology ministers from Chad, Mauritania, Mozambique and Sudan, and deputy ministers from Burundi, Namibia and South Africa attended the one-day symposium on science and technology development in Africa.

This is the first time the 77-year-old ICSU has held a general assembly in Sub-Saharan Africa.