Technology adoption will minimize climate change impacts – IFRC

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies advocates the use of technology as a tool to minimize the impact of climate change and natural disasters on society.

IFRC Operations Manager, Abuja Country Cluster Delegation, Mr. Hopewell Munyari, during a meeting with the Nigerian Red Cross in partnership with private sector representatives. The theme of the conference, “Beyond Green: Conversations on Accelerating Action on Climate Change,” was held in Lagos on Wednesday.

Referring to recent floods affecting parts of the country, Muniari said that such natural disasters could be predicted, controlled and minimized if technology was involved from the start.

“In terms of using technology, there are a lot of innovations that can be used, such as geographic information systems that can predict disasters before they happen and save lives and property,” he said.

“These systems can map out the areas that will be affected, for example in a flood situation. It can detect not only the affected areas, but the exact communities.

“This way, with information on weather patterns that have been detected, governments can take immediate and aggressive action to fix problems long before they happen. People don’t need to die unnecessarily because they could have been moved out of the area and would have been Take steps to ensure the impact is not as severe as it would have been without early detection.”

“The problem we have in Nigeria is that we react to everything, not think and act in advance,” he added.

Muniari also stressed that Nigeria has the ability to acquire the necessary technological systems to help combat climate change, adding that Nigerians are very smart.

He said: “Nigeria has the capacity to use all this information. The capacity is there, but this is how we use it to ensure it targets real problems.

“Nigeria is the heart of the West Coast, with such a large economy, one would expect them to be leaders.

“Policy also plays an important role here. We need to steer policy direction towards disaster risk reduction, but if laws are not aligned with risk reduction and they are more focused on response, we will always wait until disaster strikes before responding, Like the National Emergency Management Agency.”

In his remarks, Mr. Head of the IFRC Abuja Country Cluster delegation said: Bhupinder Tomar said that the Red Cross is changing from a responsive pillar to an anticipatory one. The Disaster Response Emergency Fund will support anticipatory and responsive efforts going forward, he said.

He said: “In the future, DREF will be used not only for response actions, but also for anticipatory actions. This will lead to readiness, early action and early response, which ultimately saves lives and reduces impact. Reactive responses are not enough.”

In his speech, NRCS Chair and IFRC Vice Chair Bolaji Anani said that the forum was set up to explore more ways for the private sector to engage in finding innovative ways to ensure the sustainability of society.

Although the Red Cross has 800,000 registered volunteers across the country, this is a small number compared to the country’s population, he said, adding that more volunteers are needed in order to have a visible impact on society.

He added: “The focus of climate change is long overdue in Nigeria and it affects all sectors of society. In agriculture, sea levels are rising, soil erosion is getting worse, and droughts are getting worse, which is taking a toll on livestock. Production poses a threat. As a result, problems between farmers and pastoralists are increasing.

“Climate change is exacerbating inequality, poverty and displacement, not just in Nigeria, but across Africa. People are forced to move internally and externally.”

The programme was attended by prominent stakeholders including: Abubakar Kende, Secretary General of NCRS; Somachi Chris-Asoluka Director of Partnerships and Communications, Tony Elumelu Foundation; Lolita Ejiofor Abbey Mortgage Bank General Manager; Chigozie Ejimogu Verod Capital Management Impact and Sustainability Director; Temitope Ande, Chair of She Farmers Initiative and Prof. Adeniyi Gbade family, representative of the Department of Geography, University of Ibadan.

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