The UN Development Program is seeking to answer that age-old question for residents of the small nation of Comoros: how can we best use a volcano to improve our economy, provide energy, feed us, promote tourism, increase biodiversity, and, um, not cover us with liquid hot magma?

volcano lava flow comoros.jpg

Experts in vulcanology, natural resources and disaster prevention are gathering today in the Comoros for the start of a United Nations-sponsored conference examining how the Indian Ocean archipelago can better manage and profit from the active volcano that dominates the main island in the chain.

The Karthala volcano, which covers two thirds of Grande Comore island, has erupted about 20 times over the past century and four times since 2005, displacing thousands of locals in the process.

So now, in addition to being able to brag about the coolness of living on a volcano nation, Comorosers Comorosans people who live in the Comoros will hopefully actually be able to benefit from their geography — instead of having to flee from it in terror.

(image of lava flow in the Comoros from flickr user maeli under a Creative Commons license)

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