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Climate Information Services Africa Day highlights the urgent need to include climate information in development planning

During the Climate Information Services (CIS) Day hosted in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 27 October, 2017, the need to move from aspirational to tangible actions to prepare for weather and climate related risks was emphasised. The day, hosted by the African Climate Policy Centre (ACPC) UNECA, brought together climate services providers, researchers, climate information users, intermediaries, climate services innovators and the media to deliberate how to enhance uptake and use of CIS in development planning, policy and practice in Africa.

In her opening remarks, Dr. Fatima Denton, Coordinator of ACPC, noted that CIS needs to be connected with compelling poverty reduction narratives, and major development agendas such as Agenda 2030 and Agenda 2063. Whilst some progress has been made in creating awareness of potential impacts of climate, more work is required to provide evidence on the socio-economic benefits of the use of CIS. Benefits such as development opportunities, avoided losses, reduced disaster risks, and enhanced productivity of economic sectors need to be demonstrated.

Presenters highlighted barriers to the uptake of CIS in Africa, including:

  • Limited and deteriorating observational infrastructure;
  • Limited capacity in the climate information services sector;
  • Lack of incentives in the legislative and policy environment;
  • Lack of coordination of initiatives;
  • Absence of collaboration networks and partnerships;
  • Limited strategic knowledge management;
  • Absence of coordinated Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (MEL); and
  • Insufficient understanding of indigenous knowledge systems and its contribution to actionable CIS

The AMCOMET director, Dr. Joseph Mukhabana said that about 90% of natural disasters in sub-Saharan Africa are weather and climate related and affect economies of countries by 10-20%. AMCOMET was developed to inform policy makers of the value of CIS and to support increased resource allocation to National Met Services and Regional Climate Centres in Africa for the delivery of climate services.

A session led by Mr Frank Rutabingwa from UNECA and Prof. Cush Luwezo (Jomo Kenyatta University) promoted the Climate Research for Development (CR4D) initiative as an African-led initiative to strengthen links between climate science research and climate information needs to support development planning in Africa. Mr Rutabingwa highlighted progress that has been made on operationalising CR4D and Prof Luwezo highlighted the need for co-designed multi-disciplinary research and capacity development of African scientists to ensure that CIS is tailored to user needs.

Several questions from the floor highlighted the priorities of researchers present:

“How can CR4D ensure greater access for African modellers to contribute their knowledge to climate model development, given ICT barriers?” Dr Mouhamed Ly (Climate Analytics, Togo)

“How can CR4D ensure greater donor coordinate as well as access to data and research from other programmes?” Dr Wilfried Pokam (University of Yaounde)

“Africa is not a priority region for climate model development groups. African tools need to be developed by African for Africans.” Dr Mouhamadou Sylla (WASCAL)

In his discussant remarks Mr. Jean-Pierre Roux (SouthSouthNorth and Future Climate for Africa) urged CR4D to

  • Operationalize a flexible and sustainable grant management mechanism that can accept and disperse funds from multiple donors;
  • Support African meteorologists and climate experts to evaluate climate models’ performance over different parts of the continent in efforts to improve understanding of how climate models work over Africa;
  • Support long-term access for African scientists to the data being produced by the Future Climate for Africa programme, such as the first ever high-resolution convection-permitting climate model (CP4-Africa) simulations conducted by the UK Met Office, and access to computing capacity on the JASMIN computing infrastructure.
  • Promote greater participation of African experts in the IPCC review process for the 6th Assessment Report.

A meeting report with recommendations and key messages for policy and practices on CIS uptake is forthcoming and there is an intention to establish a task force for the promotion and tracking of CIS uptake across Africa.

This blog was written by Zablone Owiti