Prepare well for weather and climate extremes

Boda boda operatos navigates through flooded road  in Kaptebwo following  the 2015 El-Nino rains. [File, Standard] 

The world is going haywire at an alarming pace. Global warming is upending lives across the globe. In the past one month, heatwaves have scorched European countries including Greece, Spain, Poland, Germany and France. Temperature records are being broken and this is year is reported to be hottest ever, with the average global temperature hitting 17.18 degrees Celsius on July 4.

Temperatures of even more than 50 degrees Celsius are being experienced in parts of the world. No wonder, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has, rightly, warned that "the era of global boiling has arrived."

But it is not only boiling. Devastating floods are becoming common. India, China and Japan have of late been experiencing extreme rain that has caused serious flooding that has forced governments to evacuate people to safety.

Africa has had its fair share of climate woes including flooding and protracted drought spells. Mozambique is still struggling to recover from the devastating effects of Cyclone Freddy that hit the country’s coast in March this year and destroyed the country’s power supply lines.

These are some of the warning signs that African governments should take seriously.

While no country in the world can boast that it is adequately prepared to deal with climate change and its adverse effects, third world countries where Africa lies are the most unprepared.

African leaders should ask themselves what would happen if their countries, where only a small fraction of the population owns air conditioners, were hit by record-high temperatures. That would likely result in mass deaths.

So even as they strive to move the countries from rain-fed agriculture, leaders should prepare well for the worst climate scenarios, including devastating floods and record-high temperatures by training emergency teams across their territories and acquiring rescue equipment for they do not know when disaster will strike.