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Co-producing useful climate information can be quick and affordable




October 1, 2019



Compiling user-friendly and accessible climate information to support policy making and planning in Africa, which draws on the expertise and perspectives of many different partners, doesn’t have to take years to produce and or be expensive.

Julio Araujo, research fellow with the Future Climate For Africa (FCFA) programme, confirms this was his experience after working on a pilot initiative in Rwanda to help build a toolkit to support the country’s climate and environment fund (FONERWA). The toolkit’s purpose is to support the FONERWA reviewing panel when assessing projects that might qualify for financial support through the fund.

However, the toolkit can also be used by project developers in other sectors to identify risk and help make climate-related decisions.

‘There’s a common perception that working with many different stakeholders to co-produce climate information is time consuming, difficult, and expensive,’ explains Araujo. ‘But while that may be true for some of the deeper co-production processes, sometimes it’s possible to use a light-touch process that also involves consultation with different partners, so they can work together to build the material on a limited budget and with little time.’

FCFA is a cross-disciplinary programme aimed at supporting policy makers within different spheres of government in sub-Saharan Africa to help draw climate information into policy making and planning. Part of the FCFA process has been to help produce policy-relevant scientific information that could help countries make better long-term plans, with climate change in mind.

Araujo and colleagues worked in Rwanda to create the FONERWA Climate Risk Screening Tool over a two-year period from 2016 to 2018, and have written up the experience of the process of shared information building for a new co-production manual published by FCFA and WISER (Weather and Climate Information Services in Africa).

The Co-production in African weather and climate services manual addresses the growing interest in the region for the process of jointly creating useful and relevant climate information by drawing together different partners from government, civil society, and research, who have a shared interest in climate change and various development efforts.

For the Rwanda-based toolkit, Araujo and team worked specifically with researchers in the agriculture sector, although he says the tool is applicable beyond the farming arena.

‘The principals of the tool apply to many other sectors, too,’ he says. ‘It can assist people to understand how climate could affect development-project design and essentially help justify climate-related decisions in their projects.’

The FONERWA case study is one of 18 regional examples compiled in the manual in an effort to draw out the lessons learned from various weather and climate services projects across sub-Saharan Africa.

‘The real value of this manual is the wealth of the case studies that are in it. These show real-life examples of how co-production is done, and how it can be used in different contexts,’ explains Araujo. ‘Some involved deep, immersive co-production efforts, which took more time and money to complete, and needed lengthy processes using many different stakeholder meetings and workshops. Others, like the FONERWA risk assessment toolkit, show how lighter consultative processes were done with less money and time available.’

He says the inclusion of the FONERWA toolkit example in the manual allowed them to demonstrate how the team overcame various co-production challenges with limited resources. 

While there is already a great deal of information and academic literature, which explains how co-production could be done, what’s missing from these is the real life examples, says Araujo.

‘What separates this manual out from other publications is having such a wide number of case studies, across multiple sectors and countries, using different types of co-production processes.’

The manual is intended to support people involved in co-production processes and projects, ranging from academics and practitioner project managers, to national meteorological services and government officials wanting to integrate co-production principles into their own work processes.

While the end-goal of much of the FCFA work is to produce user-friendly climate information, part of the process of compiling that information calls for these kinds of collaboration that helps bridge the gap between scientific researchers and academics in the field of climate change, and the policy makers and practitioners who use that information.

The Co-production in African weather and climate service manual is available download here.

 Future Climate for Africa (FCFA) is a cross-disciplinary, multi-country research and development partnership that aims to generate fundamentally new climate science focused on Africa, and to ensure that this science has an impact on human development across the continent. The work reported in this story forms part of Future Climate for Africa’s Coordination, Capacity Development and Knowledge Exchange unit.

 This article was written by Leonie Joubert and is part of a series that highlights the co-production case studies from the FCFA research consortia.