FEATURE: Generating accessible and uniquely African climate information – The story of FCFA
Across Africa, people need useful, actionable climate information if they are to manage climate risks effectively for a more resilient future. The Future Climate For Africa (FCFA) programme has shown how climate research and collaboration across disciplines, countries and even continents can produce relevant, accessible climate information, while also building the capacity of African decision-makers to use the information.
Africa is one of the most at-risk regions when it comes to climate change, with extreme weather events increasing across the continent. Although African countries are already incorporating climate change into their strategies and plans to help manage the impacts, many decision-makers still struggle to access relevant climate information.
In response to this challenge, the Future Climate for Africa (FCFA) programme has been working over the past five years to enhance scientific knowledge by improving predictions of how the climate is changing and building the capacity of African decision-makers to integrate this information into their policies and planning. A new animation describes exactly how FCFA has done this:
As described in the animation, one of FCFA’s notable successes was the development of the first pan-African climate model, CP4 Africa, which can represent local climate processes, such as thunderstorms, and provide new information at a finer scale than previously possible. This information has been used to inform decision-makers across a range of sectors.
The programme has developed a climate database for African policy-makers, which contains details of the most valuable crops and adaptation options available in a changing climate. This database, alongside direct community and government engagement, has enhanced rural adaptation and climate-smart agriculture decisions in East Africa.
FCFA has also worked to enhance local deliberation and debate about climate solutions, through a range of participatory processes. In West Africa, collaborations between scientists and national and city decision-makers have helped create tools to support flood resilient planning in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. And in Southern Africa, a range of novel initiatives including learning labs and embedded researchers in city councils helped build trusting relationships and bridge the divide between science and policy. As a result, both decision-makers and researchers in the region have become better equipped to integrate climate information into the complex decisions for African cities. The programme has also brought climate information to a broader populace through diverse communication channels, including theatre forums.
FCFA’s work has shown that in order for African decision-makers to integrate climate information effectively into disaster risk management and development policies, they need access to usable, relevant information. Innovative communication and collaboration among scientists, researchers, policy-makers and communities is key to ensuring that climate science is used – reaching the people who need it, when they need it.
FCFA was funded by the United Kingdom Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, and United Kingdom Natural Environment Research Council. For more information, visit: www.futureclimateafrica.org