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POLICY BRIEF: Using climate information to achieve long-term development objectives in Malawi (FCFA)

Malawi’s National Climate Change Policy calls for development programmes to be more resilient to the changing climate. A new policy brief from the Future Climate for Africa  (FCFA) programme and CDKN explores how better use of medium- to long-term climate information could help the country meet these goals.

Climate change is moving the goalposts for development. If policy and planning decisions are to remain robust and sustainable as the climate changes, they must take into account the expected changes in temperature, rainfall and extremes in the coming decades.

Climate scientists don’t always provide this information in a way that decision-makers can use. They have to understand what weather and climate information decision-makers need and respond to it.

A new policy brief highlights key findings from a pilot case study in Malawi on how climate information can be used to improve humanitarian and development policy. The case study is part of the Future Climate for Africa (FCFA) programme, a five-year research programme that aims to advance scientific knowledge about the future of Africa’s climate in the next generation – and how climate science could be better used by decision-makers.

Authors Katharine Vincent, Tracy Cull, Diana Chanika, Andy Dougill, Lindsay Stringer, Jami Dixon and David Mkwambisi conclude the following key findings.

Key messages

  • In Malawi, government ministries and departments are not yet using medium to long-term (5-40 years) climate projections, despite the availability of regionally-downscaled information and the latest projections reported by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
  • Current barriers that prevent use of weather and climate information in planning are the scale, accessibility and timing of information, as well as the nature of policy-planning cycles and lack of linkages with indigenous knowledge.
  • Better use of existing information would improve the resilience of policy and planning decision-making in Malawi in the face of climate change. This is encouraged in the National Climate Change Policy.
  • There is scope for inclusion of existing medium- to long-term projections in the formulation of documents for Malawi’s long-term development vision.

FCFA is jointly funded by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) and the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). CDKN is responsible for coordinating the FCFA scoping phase – an 18 month exercise uses six case studies in sub-Saharan Africa to evaluate the needs of science users in the context of the capabilities and limitations of current science.

Read the other FCFA case studies:

More information is available at http://www.futureclimateafrica.org