The Resident Representative of the President of the hydro-meteorological ECOWAS Commission in Liberia, Madam Josephine Nkrumah has disclosed that in Liberia, around 2.2 million people are exposed to floods, 320,000 coastal erosion, and 2.1 million to windstorms.
According to Madam Nkrumah, with the impact of climate change, the country is expected to see increased risks from these natural disasters.
Speaking yesterday at a training workshop for school teachers on mainstreaming, disaster risk reduction hydro-meteorological, and management in school curricula, the ECOWAS Special envoy added that Liberia is one of the wettest countries in the world with an average annual rainfall of more than 5,000 mm in Monrovia and is prone to many natural risks and hazards such as floods, sea-erosion, storms and fires putting the country at the risk of hydro-meteorological hazards and natural disasters.
“As we all know, climate change is expected to result in more extreme weather situations such as heavy rains and drought in West Africa. While Liberia is prone to flooding and not drought, human displacement in neighboring countries will be additional future challenges,” she noted.
According to Madam Nkrumah, heavily populated parts of the coast could be affected by frequent waterlogging, “This is likely to result to insignificant economic losses, damage to agricultural lands, Infrastructures as well as human casualties.”
She noted that vulnerability is acerbated due to the country’s high level of poverty and high dependence on climate change sensitive sectors such as agriculture, fisheries, mining and forestry. “This further strain the coping capacity of Liberia as a country which is still recovering from the Ebola outbreak of 2014-2016 and the current Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic,” she pointed out.
In response to the increasing risks of disasters according to Madam Nkrumah, the ECOWAS Commission, in collaboration with its partners developed a new action program for the period 2015-2030 in line with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR), the AU Regional Program for DRR and the ECOWAS Policy on DRR in order to implement activities aimed at strengthening the capacities of Member States.
She added that ECOWAS adopted in 2020 its Flood Management Strategy, Gender Mainstreaming in DRR Strategy and Hydromet Program.
She noted that post-disaster recovery and development calls for the inclusion of Disaster Risk Reduction in development interventions aimed at reducing long-term risks and thereby building resilience.
“Therefore, in order to increase awareness of disaster risk reduction, consolidate disaster risk reduction interventions, and lay the foundation for long-term risk reduction, it is necessary to start raising awareness among future generations, especially school children and students in general, empower them to know the challenges, prepare for it but more importantly to also begin to proffer/create solutions tutored to the African context,” the ECOWAS official noted.
The training workshop on integrating disaster risk reduction into school curricula aims to build capacity and improve the knowledge and skills of teachers and educators on integrating disaster risk reduction and management into school curricula. It is in line with the implementation of the ECOWAS action plan, which includes in its priority areas the development of education, training, research and technology programs on disasters.
The pilot workshop initiated by the ECOWAS Commission provides an opportunity for national stakeholders to address how educational policies, planning and programs can strengthen the resilience of children, youth, schools, communities and the education system through comprehensive approaches to school safety and social cohesion.