Indigenous knowledge should be harnessed to new technologies to help break the cycle of natural calamities in Africa, according to Juliana Rotich, executive director of Ushahidi, a Nairobi-based online open source software developer. "Whether it is for tsunamis, drought, hunger, floods," she said, "there is need for early warnings to prepare people, something only possible with sound information and environmental policies," she told SciDev.Net at the Eye on Earth Summit in Abu Dhabi. "That was why disaster preparedness and building people’s resilience to cope with natural calamities should be prioritised in environmental policymaking," she continued.
Helena Molin Valdes, director of the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, agreed that improving access to information was key in dealing with disasters. "There is a communication gap that leaves people, especially the poor, vulnerable to natural disasters," she said. "We need to study environmental cycles, listen to historical information and then put that information into mapping for disaster preparedness and management," she added.
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