As the triple threats of floods, locusts and Covid-19 unfold in East Africa, all arguably linked to the crises of climate change and biodiversity loss, ICPAC (IGAD Climate Prediction and Applications Centre) convened the fifty fifth Greater Horn of Africa Climate Outlook Form (GHACOF55) virtually for the first time.
The virtual meeting format was very successful, with over 150 participants from ten East African countries, as well as international attendees, including those from the World Meteorological Organisation. There were many positive comments from those assembled about the success of the virtual format and smooth running of the meeting.
Dr Guleid Artan, Director of ICPAC noted, “Climate related hazards are becoming more intense and frequent in our region, mostly due to climate change. Such events, including the floods of 2019 and 2020 and the ongoing locust outbreak, demonstrate the urgent need to climate proof our region from the negative impacts of climate variability and change”.
Dr John Marsham (University of Leeds), Principal Investigator of HyCRISTAL, presented on the value of integrating climate change into GHACOF, and the synergies between projects and across time-scales, both in the need for long-term planning as climate change increases disaster risk, but also in use of shorter term predictions as part of the approach to risk management and reduction. After a summary of how climate change is expected to affect East Africa, the HyCRISTAL presentation focused on how climate change may have contributed to the 2019/2020 floods. This includes the record-breaking Lake Victoria water level by intensifying rainfall, and increasing the likelihood of high rainfall accumulations in the October to February season. Finally the need for “no-regret” actions to address the current vulnerabilities was highlighted, alongside the need for important long-term decisions to account for all possible futures.
The HyCRISTAL presentation generated valuable discussion on what we do and don’t know about future change, rainfall intensification, tropical cyclones, and how climate change may or may not have contributed to the extreme weather of the last year. Breakout groups then allowed sectors to discuss implications of the seasonal forecast, whilst over thirty participants focused on climate change. The group shared ongoing actions to address the urgent need to adapt to reduce the growing impacts of extremes, a discussion which will be continued at future GHACOFs.
The meeting recording is available here and the HyCRISTAL presentation commences at 1:01:40.