During the last decades, an unprecedented number of extreme events, such as floods and droughts, contributed significantly to loss of life and property and set back economic development in many Least Developed Countries (LDCs), especially in Africa. Extreme hydrometeorological events have accounted for about 90 % of all natural disasters and they are increasing.
Natural hazards and climate change are recognized as mounting challenges to the sustainable development of many Least Developed Countries (LDCs), particularly for those especially dependent on rain-fed agriculture, fresh water and the exploitation of natural resources.
Natural hazards cannot be avoided, appropriate capacity building can contribute to significantly mitigate the death and destruction tolls through proactive adaptation measures, according to WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud. However, while weather and climate sciences have indeed made outstanding progress during the last decades, most LDCs cannot yet benefit from these advances for lack of the necessary capacity, he said.
In a speech delivered to the Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries in Istanbul, Turkey, WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud outlined the weather and climate-related challenges facing LDCs as well as WMO programmes designed to help them. WMO also participated in a panel debate with the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change on Addressing Vulnerability to Climate Change in LDCs.
WMO established in 2003 a special Programme for the LDCs to strengthen the capabilities of their National Meteorological and Hydrological Services to provide relevant and timely weather, water and climate information and services.