UMFULA: Co-producing Climate Information for Medium-term Planning in the Water-Energy-Food Nexus

Authors

Katharine Vincent, Kulima Integrated Development Solutions (katharine@kulima.com); UMFULA Malawi team

Aim of the project

Uncertainty Reduction in Models for Understanding Development Applications (UMFULA) aims to improve the availability and use of climate information for medium-term (5–40 year time frame) decision-making in the water-energy-food nexus.

Dates

2015–2019

Countries

Malawi and Tanzania (This case study focuses on Malawi)

Meteorologist Yobu Kachiwanda, of Malawi’s Department of Climate Change and Meteorological Services, displays the co-produced climate briefs to members of the public and school children on World Meteorological Day 2018.

Meteorologist Yobu Kachiwanda, of Malawi’s Department of Climate Change and Meteorological Services, displays the co-produced climate briefs to members of the public and school children on World Meteorological Day 2018.

Meteorologist Yobu Kachiwanda, of Malawi’s Department of Climate Change and Meteorological Services, displays the co-produced climate briefs to members of the public and school children on World Meteorological Day 2018.

DCCMS, 2018

Aim of co-production

Many African countries have recognised climate change in their national development plans and adopted climate change policies. How to incorporate climate information in decision-making is still a barrier. This disconnect stems from a ‘usability gap’ between climate science producers and users, which acts as a major barrier to the effective use of climate information to inform planning and adaptive decision-making. Our ethos was that, by working across the boundary with users, we would be able to provide more useful and usable information that more closely meets demands to inform medium-term planning processes relating to water, energy and agriculture.

Context

DCCMS
Department of Climate Change and Meteorological Services

The motivation for co-production came from consultation within country (Vincent et al., 2014). Government technical staff lamented the fact that they are often presented with reports from complex models, which they do not know how to use. They also cannot access the source material. Department of Climate Change and Meteorological Services (DCCMS) staff also highlighted the challenges they face in being able to meet increasing demands for information from government departments with a very slim organisational structure and significant pressure on staff resources. Co-production took place at national level.

Who was involved and what were their roles?

The Department of Climate Change and Meteorological Services (DCCMS) was involved in the design of the content and presentation of future climate scenarios. The Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development (MoAIWD), the Department of National Parks and Wildlife, and related programmes and organisations such as the Shire River Basin Management Programme and the Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi Limited (ESCOM) played a role in conceptualising and co-developing the open access Water Evaluation and Planning (WEAP) system model through regular engagement, feedback and iteration.

What was co-produced?

How was co-production done?

Identify key actors and build partnerships; build common ground; co-explore need

UMFULA
Uncertainty Reduction in Models for Understanding Development Applications

DCCMS were involved in a pilot case study for the Future Climate For Africa programme that took place in Malawi in 2014. The interest generated by this pilot case study was critical to UMFULA including Malawi in its proposal. We were able to design the project so as to capitalise on the needs identified in earlier initiatives, so we knew that our aims had been user-informed (Vincent et al., 2014). Through initial scoping, we cemented an emerging relationship with the Department of Climate Change and Meteorological Services, and were allocated an official desk officer to coordinate liaison.

In addition to the partnership with DCCMS, we identified three groups of key actors with whom to build partnerships:

FCFA
Future Climate for Africa
FRACTAL
Future Resilience for African Cities and Lands
WFP
World Food Programme
WMO
World Meteorological Organisation
  1. A contact group comprised of representatives of other projects investigating complementary issues (for example: the FCFA FRACTAL project, WFP/WMO who implement the Global Framework for Climate Services in Malawi, the World Bank, which is responsible for the Shire River Basin Management Programme and the Pilot Programme for Climate Resilience). This association enabled us to cross-check information needs and ensure that we were contributing to addressing those needs, thereby also reducing demands on government partners.  
  2. Our case study partners, including in the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, are our core co-production partners. Engagement is based on their stated preferences around frequency of contact and preferred communication medium.
  3. Broader stakeholders are in-country partners who have an interest in the project but are not directly involved in it. They are kept in touch on our progress through six-monthly one-page stakeholder updates, as well as outputs when released. Updates and outputs are communicated to stakeholders through their preferred medium (email or face-to-face delivery).

Co-develop solutions

The climate brief was developed following a workshop with DCCMS in which they provided direction on the content and presentation of projections. The WEAP model was co-developed through regular engagement with our case study partners. We met with them individually in the early stages, and then, in later stages, held collaborative learning fora which enabled presentation and review-and-refinement of previous inputs, as well as discussion between partners with different priorities.

Co-deliver solutions

The government of Malawi has cited the climate brief in the drafts of the National Resilience Strategy and the Third National Communication to the United Nations Framework Convention of Climate Change (UNFCCC). The photo shows DCCMS meteorologist Yobu Kachiwanda presenting the brief on World Meteorological Day 2018.

Benefits of the co-production approach

Lessons to learn from

UMFULA team collaborates with DCCMS

UMFULA team collaborates with DCCMS

UMFULA team collaborates with DCCMS

Vincent, 2017

References