The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat) will receive funding for projects dealing with the El Nino weather phenomenon and water management in African cities. The Board of Directors of the United Nations Foundation, Inc., has approved $US 650,000 for the UNEP project proposal, "Reducing the Impact of Environmental Emergencies Through Early Warning and Preparedness - The Case of El Nino Southern Oscillation". And, $US 2,270,000 for the joint Habitat/UNEP project proposal, "Managing Water for African Cities."
Working closely with the United Nations University and the US National Center for Atmospheric Research, among others, the El Nino project will improve understanding of the weather phenomenon which has unleashed massive social, economic and environmental devastation around the world this year. Involving elements of early warning, assessment, education, training and outreach, the project will contribute towards improving the safety and welfare of people and the environment by enhancing the preparedness for future El Nino events and their adverse impacts.
The second project will help African countries to deal effectively with the growing water crisis in their cities. The project will, specifically, focus on two inter-linked priorities: water demand in cities and mitigating the impact of urbanization on freshwater resources and aquatic ecosystems. Within the framework of the United Nations System-wide Special Initiative on Africa, the project will assist African countries to put in place early warning mechanisms for timely detection of potential 'hot spots', where sustainability is threatened.
"Africa, water, urban issues - these are priority areas of concern for UNEP and Habitat," said Toepfer. "This funding approval is a clear signal from one part of the donor community that we are now focusing on the right issues. It's also another good example that cooperation between the two United Nations agencies here is working well," he said.
Earlier this year, the United Nations Foundation Inc. funded support to the United Nations Task Force on Environment and Human Settlements, (chaired by Toepfer), and the UNEP book, Endangered Planet: A youth Perspective into the 21st Century.
For more information: Tore J. Brevik,
UNEP Information and Public Affairs, Nairobi,
tel: 623292, fax: 623692,
email: email@example.com, or Christina Engfeldt,
Chief, Information & External Relations,
tel: 623067, fax: 624060,
UNEP News Release 1998/97