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POLICY BRIEF: Using climate information to achieve long-term development objectives in coastal Ghana and Mozambique

Accra, Ghana and Maputo, Mozambique face many development challenges, such as poor transport and drainage infrastructure, as a result of inadequate regulation and law enforcement. Climate change could lead to flooding and coastal erosion and will compound these challenges. Could better use of climate information in planning hold the answer? A new policy brief from the Future Climate for Africa (FCFA) programme and CDKN lays out some options.

As a FCFA pilot case study, authors Anna Steynor, Chris Jack, Jon Padgham and Sukaina Bharwani assessed whether and how future climate information is being used to guide development planning and delivery in the two cities. Methods included a desktop study, a preliminary survey and a participatory workshop in each city. In the process, a recently developed ‘co-exploration’ workshop methodology was further refined.

The workshop, held in Accra in June 2014, explored how multiple risks and ‘stressors’ (barriers to human development) make city residents more vulnerable.  They used Dansoman in Accra and Costa do Sol in Maputo as test cases. In each of these cities, participants were a mix of academics, government officials, disaster risk reduction practitioners and climate impact modellers.

Rather than beginning with climate science as the entry point and then looking at sectors, the study team began by figuring out the range of stressors in each place. Then they introduced climate information into the analysis – in ways that would support decision-making. They concluded the following key findings.

Key Messages

  • Future climate information does not appear to be used directly for government decision-making in either Accra or Maputo.
  • Acknowledging the non-climate issues facing both cities was critical to identifying suitable climate change adaptation strategies and activities.
  • Future planning responses should not be determined solely by climate stressors, but by acknowledging the natural interrelationship of non-climatic and climatic factors.
  • Decision-makers have highlighted their need for improved information on observed climate trends, to support both current decision-making and future climate projections.
  • Projects such as this provide a useful mechanism for investigating vulnerabilities and testing potential ways to address them. A more sustained approach of this kind – called ‘co-exploration’ –  is needed to investigate and implement on-the-ground action.

Future Climate for Africa (FCFA), is a new five-year international 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.

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