NEWS: Latest guidance shows how climate information services can reach more people
Who you are and where you live can affect your access to weather and climate information. The agencies that provide weather and climate services should take people’s diverse needs into account – according to the WISER programme, which has launched a video and posters to raise broad awareness of these vital needs.
Weather and climate can be a matter or life and death. Climate change is leading to more heatwaves and less predictable rainfall in Africa – with more changes predicted in the coming decades. Where you live and/or where you work makes a big difference in your exposure to extreme weather events (such as heatwaves, droughts and cyclones) or slow onset changes (like the gradual rises in temperatures that could affect the way crops grow and are affected by pests). Who you are affects how your body responds to changes in heat – for instance, pregnant women, the very young and the elderly are more susceptible to extremes in heat.
In other words, there are a host of social, economic, political, cultural and physical factors that make individuals, households and groups of people more or less vulnerable to climate change and extreme weather events – and more or less able to respond and become resilient.
Weather and climate information services – such as daily and seasonal forecasts – are increasingly vital in helping people adapt and respond. But, as described in a recent video by the Weather and Climate Information Services for Africa (WISER) programme (click below), meteorological agencies and other climate services providers in Africa need to be more systematic about how they design and deliver their services, in order to reach all the populations who need them.
In order to reach diverse groups of people and ensure they benefit fully from weather and climate information services, service providers should:
- Assess people’s differing needs for weather and climate information adequately (looking at the diversity of need across gender, age, income, ability, for example);
- Interpret and tailor data to meet diverse people’s needs (which can involve ministries, departments and groups which represent, for instance, women, indigenous and disable people);
- Communicate across multiple channels and formats to boost inclusivity (including adequate budgets for reaching people without formal schooling and who speak a diversity of national and local languages);
- Monitor and evaluate how effectively their services are reaching diverse – including traditionally socially marginalised populations.
To accompany the video, two posters are available for downloading and printing, to inspire climate service providers everywhere about the steps they can take to bring their life- and livelihood-saving information to diverse groups in society. Recommended questions to explore, when designing and delivering effective climate services, include:
- Do women have access to mobile phones, TV and/or radio?
- Is the target population literate?
- Are people’s different physical and mental abilities to access, understand and respond to information taken into account in making communications more accessible and timely; for example, braille, sign language and loud speakers?
- Are weather forecast communications timed throughout the day and week so that they reach all groups in society?
- Are there certain times of day when women and men are in the fields, out fishing, away fetching water, or in the house, and may or may not be able to access critical weather announcements?
- Is local knowledge considered when monitoring and evaluating feedback, to meet users’ distinct needs?
These, and many other considerations around gender and social inclusion, are laid out in easy-access form in the latest guidance.
Download the posters here, to print and use yourself, or share with others:
Image (right): Kenyan farmer, courtesy CIAT.