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Future Climate for Africa (FCFA) aimed to generate fundamentally new climate science focused on Africa, and to ensure that this science had an impact on human development across the continent.

Watch the video to learn more about FCFA

LOCATIONS COVERED

FCFA was implemented by 5 international research teams working across the African continent:

African Climate Risks Conference

Future Climate for Africa hosted the African Climate Risks Conference (ACRC) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in October 2019 under the theme “dismantling the barriers to urgent climate adaptation action.” It brought together over 350 researchers gathering from 52 different countries across the African continent and abroad to discuss the latest research on African climate. It also provided the opportunity for many FCFA researchers to showcase their findings on the latest climate research from the FCFA programme.

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Filling the gaps: Building off FCFA’s success to prioritise existing research gaps within Africa

As the final curtains come down on the Future Climate For Africa (FCFA) programme, the impacts and outcomes of the programme will live on for many years. FCFA was one of the largest single investments in African climate science to date, and delivered considerable advances in understanding what drives the climate across the continent and what the future of climate change might look like. While the progress made within the programme life span was considerable, there are still several research gaps which limit our ability to understand Africa’s climate and how it may change.

Improving the use of Climate Change Information for Adaptation in Uganda – Hybrid Workshop on 2nd March 2022

Researchers from Uganda, Kenya and the UK shared their practical experiences of using new simulations with new datasets to examine climate futures and potential impacts in Africa, in a recent HyCRISTAL workshop hosted by the Water Resources Institute of Uganda.

New IPCC report emphasises the need to scale up adaptation in Africa and beyond

Climate change is already being felt across the world, with urgent adaptation action needed to avert the worst impacts. This according to the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) working group II (WGII). In the 6th Assessment report (AR6), the IPCC authors highlight the interconnectivity between society, nature and climate change as vital to moving from risk to climate resilient development.

New papers from UMFULA feed into key themes from latest IPCC report

Three new papers highlight the diversity of approaches and themes covered in the FCFA project UMFULA and strong alignment with key themes promoted in the newly published IPCC Working Group II contribution to the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) – ‘Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability’. The Summary for Policymakers emphasizes interdependencies between human societies and climate, biodiversity and ecosystems and the importance of non-climatic global development trends such as land and ecosystem degradation and unsustainable consumption of natural resources. To accelerate adaptation the report identifies, among other things, a need for removing barriers to accessing finance particularly for the most vulnerable and lists insurance alongside other public and private finance instruments as adaptation enablers.

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Building the foundation for climate-informed decision-making in Africa: the need for continued investment in African climate research

The FCFA programme aimed to fundamentally improve the scientific understanding of Africa’s climate and pilot new approaches to improve the uptake of medium- to long-term climate information (5–40 years) into decision-making. While much of the real-world impact of the programme emerged from pilot projects, the underpinning science played a critical role in strengthening the knowledge foundation to understand weather and climate processes, and climate change across the continent. The collaborative research approach allowed researchers to work together and build upon each other’s work. This resulted in rapid advances in improving the understanding of Africa’s climate and provides a strong evidence base for future work, as well as decision-making around future climate risks. 

This brief aims to encourage further investments from donors in African climate science research. It highlights the advances FCFA has made in advancing the scientific understanding of Africa’s climate, improving climate models, and supporting capacity development. The brief then goes on to emphasise the value of investing in climate science within the FCFA programme and the importance of continued investment, including within existing gaps. 

Improving the use of climate change information for adaption in Uganda

There is little doubt that climate change is already affecting the lives of people in Uganda. Climate change is a particular challenge for the effective management of the country’s water resources. Reliable information on climate change scenarios and impacts is essential to inform policy and practice. While several climate experiments (e.g. CMIP6) are already available, new experiments such as the 4.5 kilometre-scale convection-permitting regional climate simulations for Africa (CP4A) can now be used alongside the CMIP experiments and allow us to assess the impacts of intense storms in more detail than before. However, if these innovative methods are to influence policy, they first need to be well-understood and accessible. This requires capacity strengthening of the professionals and researchers so that they can analyse such experiments. This workshop provided an opportunity for practitioners in Uganda to learn about a range of climate experiments and see results from case studies focussed on water resources, tea production and urban flooding using the CP4A and CMIP experiments. This was a great opportunity particularly for early career staff at the Ministry of Water and Environment, Ministry of Agriculture Animal and Fisheries and Uganda Electricity Generation Company Limited (UEGCL) as well as researchers at Makerere University.

Can insurance catalyse government planning on climate? Emergent evidence from Sub-Saharan Africa

This paper explores how climate risk information produced in the context of insurance-related activities can support public climate adaptation planning. The central contribution is to outline how relevant climate risk information can translate into behaviour change, and the drivers and barriers that influence this in Sub-Saharan Africa. The insurance industry has the potential to catalyse greater use of climate information, either through existing insurance transactions or through capacity building and investment in data sharing and collaboration. We investigate the interplay of climate risk information and insurance processes from two angles: the use of climate risk data by those who provide insurance – with information as an input to the underwriting process; and the catalyst role of insurance for governments to move towards anticipatory climate risk management. We apply a multi-method approach, combining insights from a survey of 40 insurance experts with key informant interviews and document analysis from three complementary case studies: indemnity-based insurance of private assets in South Africa; parametric sovereign risk pool in Malawi; and collaboration on risk analytics and risk management advice (no insurance) in Tanzania. The analysis offers a new perspective on the catalyst role of insurance by focusing on the ways in which political economy factors, particularly incentives and relationships, influence this process. Overall, there appears to be clear scope for a dynamic interaction between insurers and governments where symbiotic use and generation of climate risk information can advance mutual goals. However, that ambition faces many challenges that go beyond availability and suitability of data. Limited trust, unclear risk ownership and/or lack of incentives are key barriers, even if there is risk awareness and overall motivation to manage climate risks. The three cases show the importance of sustained cross-sectoral collaboration and capacity building to increase awareness and utilization of insurance-related climate risk information.

Water conservation can reduce future water-energy-food-environment trade-offs in a medium-sized African river basin

The need for achieving efficient and sustainable use of water resources is pressing, however, this often requires better understanding of the potential of water conservation, taking into account the impact on return flows, and the costs in relation to sectoral benefits. Using modelling and limited observational data we explore the costs and potential water savings of 24 combinations of water conservation measures in the Rufiji basin, Tanzania. We compare these costs with estimates of the value such water savings could generate from water use in three important economic sectors; agriculture, energy and downstream ecosystems with high tourism potential. The cost of water conservation measures (median: 0.07 USD m−3) is found to be: higher than the value of most uses of water for agriculture (growing crops in expanded irrigation sites) and the median value for hydropower generation (from a new mega dam currently under construction); and lower than the ecosystem value. Nevertheless, under our modelling assumptions, the volume of additional water required to supply planned irrigation expansion in the basin could be reduced by 1.5 BCM using water conservation methods that would be financially viable, given the value of competing uses of water. Water savings of this magnitude would reduce potential trade-offs between use of water for hydropower and ecosystem services, by allowing peak environmental flow releases even in dry years, and without reducing firm energy generation. This methodology is transferable and relevant for producing realistic assessments of the financial incentives for long-term sustainable water use in agriculture, given incentives for other uses. With most reservoirs now being built for multiple purposes improved understanding of trade-offs between different sectors and functions is needed.

Stress-testing development pathways under a changing climate: water-energy-food security in the lake Malawi-Shire river system

Malawi depends on Lake Malawi outflows into the Shire River for its water, energy and food (WEF) security. We explore future WEF security risks under the combined impacts of climate change and ambitious development pathways for water use expansion. We drive a bespoke water resources model developed with stakeholder inputs, with 29 bias-corrected climate model projections, alongside stakeholder elicited development pathways, and examine impacts on stakeholder-elicited WEF sector performance metrics. Using scenario analysis, we stress-test the system, explore uncertainties, assess trade-offs between satisfying WEF metrics, and explore whether planned regulation of outflows could help satisfy metrics. While uncertainty from potential future rainfall change generates a wide range of outcomes (including no lake outflow and higher frequency of major downstream floods), we find that potential irrigation expansion in the Lake Malawi catchments could enhance the risk of very low lake levels and risk to Shire River hydropower and irrigation infrastructure performance. Improved regulation of lake outflows through the upgraded barrage does offer some risk mitigation, but trade-offs emerge between lake level management and downstream WEF sector requirements. These results highlight the need to balance Malawi’s socio-economic development ambitions across sectors and within a lake-river system, alongside enhanced climate resilience.

This article is part of the theme issue ‘Developing resilient energy systems’.

Breaking vicious cycles? A systems perspective on Southern leadership in climate and development research programmes

South–North research collaborations are now commonly used in the field of climate and development to advance knowledge, inform decision-making and strengthen capacity in the global South. Southern leadership within these collaborations is widely seen as instrumental to their lasting impact. This study examines how Southern leadership and capacity were promoted in the Future Climate for Africa (FCFA) programme, a five-year initiative that sought to enhance resilience to climate change in Africa. Drawing on interview and survey data from programme participants, document analysis and experiential insights from the author team, we examine how Southern leadership was pursued within the programme, and the barriers that constrained action at a range of scales. Most climate and development initiatives, like FCFA, sit at the intersection of multiple social, political and research systems. To disrupt the structures that sustain the power of Northern institutions and obstruct change, funders must go beyond programme-level interventions such as funding and distribution of roles, and consider deeper leverage points of change. We propose how shifts in mindsets and metrics in relation to Southern leadership and capacity can contribute to this change.

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Maximising the impact of multi-partner climate research programs

Promoting leadership opportunities for Southern climate researchers

Climate Change journalist training session 3

Climate Change journalist training session 2

Climate Change journalist training session 1

Co-production for decision support in Future Climate for Africa

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