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A proposal for an approach beyond forecasting

Last modified January 03, 2004 12:45

As I wrote already to several of you, on my way to Washington, for a WMO meeting, I came across a newspaper item in "The Asahi Shimbun", a leading national newspaper in Japan. It was attached as p. 21 of the International Herald Tribune of Saturday/Sunday, 31st May/1st of June 2003, on new measures emphasized by the Central Disaster Management Council, to prepare the Tokai region of Japan for a major earth quake.

As I wrote already to several of you, on my way to Washington, for a WMO meeting, I came across a newspaper item in "The Asahi Shimbun", a leading national newspaper in Japan. It was attached as p. 21 of the International Herald Tribune of Saturday/Sunday, 31st May/1st of June 2003, on new measures emphasized by the Central Disaster Management Council, to prepare the Tokai region of Japan for a major earth quake.

The Council, chaired by Prime Minister Jurichiro Koizumi, decided to move away from a reliance on predictions and deal directly with what many feel is inevitable. The Council calls on those decision makers involved, to redraw their preparations and to put emphasis on fortified buildings and smooth relief measures. For example the recent quake in Algeria illustrates in my view the wisdom of such measures. The Council does not abandon earthquake prediction warning signs but recognizes their limitations.

I observe that we are in many respects in the same position regarding weather and climate forecasting as far as extreme events such as drought, floods, high winds and gales and other natural disasters are concerned.

Yes, we have to strengthen and improve monitoring, early warnings, forecasting etc., but they have their limits. Just like microclimate management and manipulation through permanent interventions with windbreaks, shelterbelts, mulches, shades and other surface modifications give a permanent degree of protection from strong weather and climate events, there are other possible measures decreasing vulnerabilities of farming systems. They may range from crop insurances to a choice of crop varieties less affected by certain extreme events. And from contingency or relief measures organized by the government - to assist farmers in re-organizing themselves when weather & climate strike - to other agrometeorological services that diminish and mitigate the impacts of extreme events in the livelihood of farmers and in harming the agricultural resource base they have to sustain.

We have now worked this out in a paper on a new approach <a href="fileadmin/insam/repository/ADPC2mp.pdf">Beyond climate forecasting</a> of flood disasters. This paper by Stigter, Das and Murthy can be referred to as presented as the opening paper at the 5th Regional Training Course on Flood Risk Management (in September 2003 in Beijing) of the Asian Disaster Preparedness Center (ADPC, Bangkok) and the China Research Center on Flood and Drought Disaster Reduction (CRCFDDR, Beijing). It is now available from ADPC on CD ROM.

Please discuss with us, in our <a href="index.php?id=15">Agromet Market Place</a>, successful examples or failures of measures that were taken in farming communities/systems to diminish impacts of extreme weather and climate events and their consequences on crop yields and on other aspects of land use. To lessen the burden of relying only on local forecasting, just as in the case of the earth quakes in Japan.

Kees Stigter

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