London and Cape Town: A new UK government-funded initiative will put GBP20 million (USD30 million) behind leading-edge research to better understand Africa’s changing climate and the use of climate change information in decision-making across the continent. Africa’s climate is one of the least-researched and poorly understood in the world, but looks set to change significantly in the decades ahead. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concluded that temperatures could warm up to 6oC on the continent this century, and vast areas could experience more intense drought or rainfall than known before. Governments and the private sector currently plough USD 70 billion into infrastructure investments in Africa each year. There are major questions over whether these investments will be resilient to the climate of the future. Future Climate for Africa (FCFA) is supporting five major research projects to develop better climate information for Africa and to test how the new information could be used in decision-making. FCFA is a joint programme of the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) and Natural Environment Research Council. Dr Tim Wheeler, DFID’s Deputy Chief Scientific Adviser, said: “We know that climate change will alter significantly the risks faced by African societies over the coming decades. That’s why DFID is delighted to work with the UK Natural Environment Research Council to address this challenge through jointly funding the Future Climate for Africa (FCFA) programme. FCFA will not only improve the climate information available to African decision-makers, but it also aims to work with both scientists and stakeholders across the continent to ensure that information is better tailored to users’ needs and to strengthen the skills of users in the interpretation and use of climate information. The programme will also make a significant contribution to training African climate scientists. That way, African researchers can support decision-makers as they invest in infrastructure and development programmes in Africa in the future.” NERC Chief Executive Duncan Wingham said: “Supporting science that helps society manage the effects of environmental change is one of NERC’s key strategic objectives. We are delighted to be investing in Future Climate for Africa, which will provide African governments, business and other stakeholders with the information they need to make decisions that increase resilience and reduce climate risk.” “African societies are already affected by climate change including sustained droughts, deadly floods and rising sea levels, which entrench poverty and undermine economic growth,” said Stefan Raubenheimer, Director of FCFA’s Coordination, Capacity Development and Knowledge Exchange unit. “The Future Climate for Africa programme will provide high quality climate information to help governments and businesses make more climate-resilient investments. The programme will safeguard economic development and contribute to the fight against poverty in the long term.” “FCFA will empower tens of thousands of scientists and policy-makers through knowledge and decision-making support tools available on open platforms, with potential benefit for millions of people whose lives will ultimately be affected,” he added. For example, health, education and social support systems, finance for households and businesses and local planning decisions all have the potential to be ‘climate-proofed’ so they function well in future climate conditions. FCFA focuses on the uses of climate information relevant to the medium term (over the next 5-40 years) as this is the lifespan of many development projects being designed today. FCFA has awarded major grants to the following research projects:
- AMMA-2050 (African Monsoon Multidisciplinary Analysis 2050) – to improve understanding of how the West African monsoon will be affected by climate change in the coming decades, and help societies adapt.
- FRACTAL (Future Resilience for African Cities and Lands) – to improve scientific knowledge of future climate trends in Southern Africa and deepen urban policy-makers’ understanding of how climate change will affect water and energy services.
- HyCRISTAL (Integrating Hydro-Climate Science into Policy Decisions for Climate-Resilient Infrastructure and Livelihoods in East Africa) – to develop new understanding of climate change and its impacts in East Africa, working with the region’s decision-makers to manage water for a more climate-resilient future.
- IMPALA ( Improving Model Processes for African Climate)– to bring about a step change in global climate model prediction capability for Africa.
- UMFULA (Uncertainty reduction in Models for Understanding Development Applications) – to provide more reliable information about climate processes and extremes in Central and Southern Africa and partner with agencies in Tanzania and Malawi to link the information to development decisions.