Delegates from around 42 African countries are meeting in Kigali to discuss and harmonise the continent's position on climate change.

The meeting which got underway yesterday at Hotel de Mille Collins seeks to come up with a document that Africa will present at the eighth Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).

The COP conference is due September 3-14 in Madrid, Spain. Speaking during the opening ceremony, Lands Environment minister Christophe Bazivamo said that African countries need substantial financial support to fight desertification. The UNDP Resident Representative to Rwanda, Moustapha Soumare, observed that desertification is no longer a political issue alone, and appealed to participants to come out with a clear framework on conservation of environment.

“You should ensure that Africa is given due attention and that commitments made by donor partners are met,” he said. He warned that ‘If the ongoing climate change and consequently the drastic land degradation in Sub-Saharan Africa go unchecked, we will face further rise in extreme and devastating weather conditions which will further weaken soils.’

“These conditions will in turn worsen desertification and thus hamper our noble objective of achieving Millennium Development Goals,” he added. The head of UNCCD liaison office in New York, US, Malchiade Buruku, observed that the deteriorating climate conditions put Africa at extremely high risk. He said that Africa needs concerted efforts such as reforestation of the continent’s lost greenbelt to be able to reverse global warming.


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