ForPAc: Co-producing Approaches to Forecast-based Early Action for Drought and Floods in Kenya

Authors

Olivia Taylor, University of Sussex (o.g.taylor@sussex.ac.uk); Emmah Mwangi, Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS); Emma Visman, King’s College London; Martin Todd; Dominic Kniveton; Pedram Rowhani, University of Sussex; Shamton Waruru; John Mwangi, National Drought Management Authority (NDMA); Andrew Colman; Richard Graham, Met Office; Mary Kilavi; William Nedgwa, Kenya Meteorological Department (KMD); David MacLeod, University of Oxford

Aim of the project

Towards Forecast-based Preparedness and Action (ForPAc) is a research project to support more anticipatory drought and urban flood risk management in Kenya. ForPAc was designed around a co-production approach, bringing together mandated agencies responsible for weather and climate forecasting for flood and drought risk management in Kenya with researchers in the United Kingdom. ForPAc aims to co-produce weather/climate information that meets the direct needs of decision-makers and develop approaches to integrating forecasts into drought and flood Early Warning Systems (EWS).

Dates

December 2016–December 2020

Countries

Kenya

Mapping the county drought contingency planning process with representatives from the Kitui County Steering Group, the Kenya Met Department and King’s College London.

Mapping the county drought contingency planning process with representatives from the Kitui County Steering Group, the Kenya Met Department and King’s College London.

Mapping the county drought contingency planning process with representatives from the Kitui County Steering Group, the Kenya Met Department and King’s College London.

E. Mwangi, 2018

EWS
Early Warning System
PIPA
Participatory Impact Pathways Analysis
KMD
Kenya Meteorological Department

Aim of co-production

ForPAc brought together partners with long-standing relationships to develop climate services that support humanitarian and development planning within existing risk management processes and systems. This experience highlighted the vital importance of working closely with decision-makers to develop climate information. The project’s co-production processes had these main objectives:

Context

Kenya has a developed EWS for drought, but that system is based on monitoring drought conditions. Therefore, actions are responsive rather than anticipatory, and there is no EWS for flood in Nairobi. While the Kenya Meteorological Department (KMD) produces relevant forecasts, these are not integrated into the drought EWS. Currently, production of climate information and risk management decision-making are siloed processes, with limited information sharing – for example, on the skill of forecasts – highlighting the need for co-production.

Who was involved and what were their roles?

ForPAc, with coordination by the University of Sussex, brought together:

Crucially, ForPAc supported an embedded ForPAc staff member in each of the national Kenyan institutions involved, to lead the work, interface with leadership in each organisation, build trust and mainstream capacity. The main vehicle for co-production has been sustained engagements with stakeholder groups. In the project’s drought case study, this was the Kitui County Steering Group for drought management and, in Nairobi, the project convened a group, including county government, emergency services, utility companies and community-based organisations.

What was co-produced?

Outputs consisted of new, prototype forecast products, validated and piloted with users in decision-making, that fit directly into existing risk management systems.

Co-produced seasonal calendar of the drought early warning system, current forecasts and where new tailored forecasts could align better within existing decision-making processes in Kenya.

Co-produced seasonal calendar of the drought early warning system, current forecasts and where new tailored forecasts could align better within existing decision-making processes in Kenya.

Co-produced seasonal calendar of the drought early warning system, current forecasts and where new tailored forecasts could align better within existing decision-making processes in Kenya.

ICHA, 2020

How was co-production done?

Each case study started with a Participatory Impact Pathways Analysis (PIPA): a method for complex projects to bring together implementers, users and other stakeholders and make explicit the users’ objectives and needs. This was followed by climate training and the trialling of new products through a ‘pilot programme’ during the October–December 2019 short rains. ForPAc’s PIPA included a range of activities which echo many of the recognised building blocks of co-production.

Build common ground

During the first workshop in July 2018, the team mapped out the forecasting and risk management context and ‘landscape’, and stakeholders agreed on a common understanding of, and objectives for, the project. The workshop participants co-produced a mapping of the seasonal calendar of climate and related livelihood activities (see seasonal calendar infographic), the timing of climate information release and drought management decision-making processes. This guided the identification of ‘entry points’ for new decision-relevant forecast products.

Co-explore need

Stakeholders developed ‘problem trees’ to identify challenges with forecast uptake and, where possible, to align forecast products with existing forecast metrics used in the drought early warning system. The ‘problem trees’ also identified training needs for stakeholders, and indicated that the project needed to invest in strengthening decision-makers’ capacities and confidence in key climate concepts and their interpretation of existing forecasts.

Co-develop solutions

Based on the training needs assessment, the research team developed a climate information training course designed to strengthen understanding of the fundamentals of climate prediction and existing and proposed forecast products. ‘Forecast pilot’ exercises were then co-led, introducing new, prototype forecast products with additional training and scenario planning for what actions could be taken based on these new forecasts. The pilot included three workshops, each issuing the most recent forecasts, from months ahead of time to shorter lead times, allowing forecast users to see the evolution of the forecasts in real time.

Evaluate

Finally, the research team developed an extensive baseline, encompassing key informant interviews with decision-makers at national level and, within each pilot, including an ongoing process of participatory learning and review through end-of-workshop surveys and feedback sessions. For example, the final annual meeting included a learning review, based on ‘round robin’ discussion groups about the usefulness of particular forecast products. These activities showed that, while participants were better able to understand and use new forecasts for early action, institutional support and funding to do so remained uneven. The project has since focused on advocacy with the key agencies to embed these approaches.

Benefits of the co-production approach

Lessons to learn from

References