Contribution of climate system monitoring and prediction in early warning systems for the reduction of natural disasters

Bradwell J. Garanganga
SADC - Drought Monitoring Centre, P.O. Box BE150, Belvedere, Harrare, Zimbabwe.
E-mail: dmc@weather.utande.co.zw

The contribution of climate system monitoring and prediction to the economic and social development of mankind is now widely recognised. One area in which climate monitoring and prediction plays an important role is drought mitigation. Drought can, and often does, cover very large areas. The recurring and severe droughts that occurred between 1974 and 1984 caused widespread starvation and economic hardship to southern Africa. More recently, as a consequence of the droughts of the early 1990s, these countries have again had to redirect the scarce resources to food importation. In particular, during the 1991/92 drought, the region spent US$ 2.5 billion. Although the 1994/5 drought was just as severe, the uptake of early warning by relevant authorities from the DMC reduced the food importation bill and allowed more orderly grain distribution. DMC has the responsibility of monitoring and prediction of climatic extremes, and in particular drought, in a timely manner with respect to intensity, geographical extent and duration and giving early warning for the formulation of appropriate strategies to combat their adverse effects.