WMO and Mauritius

WORLD METEOROLOGICAL ORGANIZATION (WMO)

AND MAURITIUS.


 

The International Meteorological Organisation (IMO) was founded in 1873. It changed to World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) in 1950. One year later, that is, in 1951 WMO became a specialized agency of the United Nations Organisation for meteorology (climate and weather), hydrology (water related issues) and geophysical sciences (environmental issues, etc.).

 

 

The role of the World Meteorological Organisation is to contribute in providing safety and welfare to humanity, that is:

  1. protection of life and property against natural disasters- droughts, floods, cyclones, forest fires, etc.;
  2. to safeguard the environment and
  3. to enhance the social and economic well-being in all sectors of society in areas like food security, water resources and transport.

 

The WMO facilitates and promotes worldwide cooperation in exchange of rapid information and data. The Headquarters of WMO is found in Geneva, Switzerland.

There are 191 member states in the WMO which has divided the whole Blue Planet or Blue Marble into 6 regions or zones. There are 57 member states, in all, in zone 1: Mauritius (Agalega, Chagos, Rodrigues, St. Brandon and Tromelin), Comoros Island, Madagascar, Reunion, Seychelles and all the 52 countries of Africa.

 

Mauritius became a member of the World Meteorological Organisation on 17 July 1969. It was just one year after acceding to Independence-12 March 1968. The Mauritius Meteorological Services (MMS) of Vacoas is the governmental institution that has the responsibility to represent Mauritius at the WMO. It has therefore the obligation to carry out the mission of the WMO.

 

The Mauritius Meteorological Services (MMS) has, thus, the duty to make observations on and to make forecasts regarding depressions, cyclones, droughts, heat waves, forest fires, floods, rainfalls, colds, fog, temperature, humidity, wind directions and intensity, ocean waves, tides, Tsunamis, hailstones, acid rain, volcanic ash, meteorites, etc. After collecting all data and information, the MMS of Vacoas has the obligation to inform everyone, namely the authorities, the public, educational institutions, fishermen, agricultural community, entrepreneurs, tourist industries, airport and shipping departments, etc. All information and warnings should be transmitted through the radios, television, emails, mobile phones, etc. The communication should be done on real time basis; in case of Tsunami within 15 minutes of the occurrence of the disaster.

 

 

In other words, the MMS has the duty to monitor and forecast all hazards that may originate from the atmosphere, the ocean and the ground and apply them in light of the Early Warning Systems. The Early Warning Systems (EWS) are considered by WMO as ‘critical life-saving tools’.

 

The EWS are defined by WMO to include four components:

  1. detection, monitoring and forecasting the hazards;
  2. analysis of risks involved;
  3. dissemination of timely and authoritative warnings and
  4. activation of emergency preparedness and response plans.

 

These systems can only be achievable by coordination across the stakeholders at national and community levels. Countries like France, Bangladesh, Cuba, etc. have achieved success by applying effective Early Warning Systems. In simple words, Awareness, Preparedness and Mitigation are undertaken according to planned framework.

 

 

 The starting point of Disaster Management is the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The IPCC was established jointly, in 1988, by the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organisation. The aims and objectives of the reports are ‘to provide the world with a comprehensive assessment of the current state of knowledge of Climate Change and its potential environmental and socio-economic impacts’.

 

 

 As from 1990, a series of reports by the IPCC have been published and which are standard references for Policy Makers and for Scientists. The latest IPCC 2012 report lays stress on the definition of core concepts of: Climate Change, Climate Extreme, Exposure, Vulnerability, Disaster, Disaster Risk, Disaster Risk Management, Adaptation, Resilience and Transformation.  

 

 

International Conferences were held in Germany in 1998, 2003, 2006. These ‘produced a set of internationally agreed guiding principles for Early Warning Systems as well as an international programme on early warning to reduce disasters’.  There are several such conferences, on weekly or monthly basis, that are being held simultaneously in different parts of the world by the WMO.

 

 

 The Yokohama Strategy for a Safer World which was adopted in 1994 provides landmark ‘Guidelines for Natural Disaster Prevention, Preparedness and Mitigation’.

Another crucial guideline is the Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015 which was the Outcome of the World Conference on Disaster Reduction that was held from 18 to 22 January 2005 at Hyogo, Kobe, Japan. Its objective was and still is ‘Building Resilience of Nations and Communities to Disasters... The Conference provided a unique opportunity to promote a strategic and systematic approach to reducing vulnerabilities and risks to hazards’. Specific gaps and challenges were identified in the Yokohama Strategy and they were considered as the 5 key areas for developing relevant framework for action for the decade 2005-2015 as follows:  

  1. Governance: organizational, legal and policy frameworks;
  2. Risk identification, assessment, monitoring and early warning;
  3. Knowledge management and education;
  4. Reducing underlying risk factors and
  5. Preparedness for effective response and recovery.



In addition, objectives, expected outcome and strategic goals were established in clear and elaborate details ranging from policy making to grass root levels in a sustainable way.



According to the UN General Assembly resolution 55/2 of the Millennium Declaration of 2000, key objectives of ‘Protecting the vulnerable and the common environment by intensifying cooperation to reduce the number and effects of natural and man-made disasters’ were identified.



 Mauritius hosted the Second International Coordination Meeting for the Development of a Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System for the Indian Ocean Conference in Grand Baie, 14-16 April 2005. This was held following the Deadly Tsunami of 26 December 2004, which I predicted during March-May 2002. I attended this Conference as an Observer in order to voice out my findings regarding the Early Warning Systems. That Marine Earthquake of Magnitude 9.2 in Sumatra was the deadliest Disaster that modern Mankind suffered with more than 283,000 dead, thousands missing, lots of property damaged and a trail of miseries.



Dr. Jan Egeland, UN Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs said ‘We need a Global Early Warning System, where people-not hardware, are at the centre of any successful disaster warning and preparedness measures. We have to have a new generation of awareness’.



Mr. Kofi Annan, UN Secretary General, while making his 2005 report on the implementation of the Millennium Declaration, In larger Freedom: towards development, security and human rights for all recommended ‘the establishment of a worldwide Early Warning System for all Natural Hazards, building on existing national and regional capacity’.



 Qatar hosted a conference on Climate Change in Doha in November 2012. In virtue of     Article 6 of the Doha Convention: education, training, public awareness, public participation, public access to information and international cooperation are the elements that should be implemented by all the countries. The stakeholders are the Policy Makers, Authorities, NGO’s, community-based organisations, private as well as public sectors, all the media, etc. supported by Regional, Sub-regional and International mechanisms.



 Article 6 of Doha Convention was one of my ‘cheval de bataille’ as regards to my campaigns. It is noteworthy to mention that the National MBC radio and Television, all the three private radio stations and all the newspapers, the MMS and the Ministry of Education failed, since October 2012 up to date, to attend and support my campaign on “Awareness, Preparedness and Mitigation of the Natural Disasters of the Indian Ocean”.



Mankind is today under the stress of mega disasters with increased frequency whose impacts are detrimental to socio-economic development. Disasters cause Global annual loss of $50 billion. Economic losses between 1960 and1990 have augmented five times because of rising vulnerability of the population. Between 1980 and 2007, nearly 7,500 Natural Disasters worldwide took the life of over 2 million people and produced economic losses of more than 1.2 Trillion dollars caused by Climate-Weather-Water related Calamities.



The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) has declared protection of lives, property and livelihoods to be at the core of priorities for the WMO Members as per the Disaster Risk Reduction Work Plan 2012-2015.



The questions that we should now ask are- what are the priorities that the Policy Makers and the Responsible Institutions and Conference Participants of the Republic of Mauritius have established in light of the different International Conventions and Protocols adhered to?  Has the Opposition of the National Assembly, which is the shadow government, established any Work Plan for the security and protection of the citizens?  The citizens of the Republic of Mauritius have experienced three Extreme Floods within 5 years-26 March 2008, 13 February 2013 and 30 March 2013. A Fact Finding Committee was appointed within 10 days by the government after the 2008 event when 4 persons died. Today 30 September 2013, marks 6 months since 11 persons were drowned in the Flash Flood of 30 March 2013. There is no enquiry and/or impact assessment that has been appointed to limelight the event.



The Speaker of the National Assembly turned a deaf ear to my request of 22 March 2013 in which I was ringing the ‘Alarum Bell’ on the oncoming Flash Flood of 30 March 2013. Prime Minister Ramgoolam who is the head of Government declared that ‘even God is not capable to know what has happened to us’. Honourable Ganoo, who is the Leader of Opposition, said it is an ‘Act of God’. Researchers and Impact Assessors are well acquainted to such comments, which are uttered when the Policy Makers try to defend their Failure in Managing Disasters. Moreover, PM Ramgoolam who was at the UN General Assembly, on 28 September 2013, made a statement on issues related to Climate and Weather. It was merely the ‘lamentable echo noise of an empty barrel’. That is why, at page 30 of my famous document of 28 May 2011 which I have submitted to the Government Leaders and to the Opposition Leaders, I have mentioned:

You, who are Policy Makers, are from the Intellectual Elite of the 87% of the literate society of Mauritius. If I try to calibrate you in Natural Hazards Literacy, I am sure you will fall in the lower level of the pass mark”.



The Policy Makers are not literate in basics and elementary knowledge of Disasters. Obviously, they are incapable of educating the population and of adopting a Work Plan. Catastrophically, they ‘put people last’. As a consequence, loss of lives and damage to property become inevitable, and thus they unveil their poor strategy of unsustainable development and of ill-governance, contrary to the various Conventions and Protocols adhered.



This is strictly for educational purposes.


PREABRUTH KANHYE.                                    30 SEPTEMBER 2013.


(Re-Uploaded: 14.38 hrs FRIDAY 20 DECEMBER 2019.)

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