On the 2nd of November 2017, FCFA researchers associated with the UMFULA project co-hosted a panel discussion with members of the Government of Malawi in Lilongwe. 62 participants attended the session, including representatives from academic, government, civil society and news institutions. Discussions focused on the climate change agenda in Malawi, barriers to the uptake of climate information, and the contributions made by UMFULA research. Mr Jolamu Nkhokwe, from the Department for Climate Change and Meteorological Services (DCCMS), emphasised the need to establish an effective weather-monitoring network. Mr Nkhokwe outlined challenges experienced by the DCCMS, such as inadequate equipment, lack of experts across districts, the ability to meet user needs, and vandalism. In the absence of a well-distributed and active weather-monitoring network, it is extremely difficult to produce robust climate information for every district in Malawi. Addressing participants Ms Shamiso Najira, Deputy Director of the Department of Environmental Affairs, Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining said; “Without proper information, or adequate or accurate information, it would be impossible to undertake interventions that would have an impact on the communities” Ms Najira advised that climate information is being integrated into national policy frameworks such as the National Climate Change Management Policy, 2014-2018 investment plan, Nationally appropriate mitigation actions (NAMA), National Adaptation Programmes of Action (NAPA) and the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC). Ms Najira said that the Government of Malawi is using climate information to derive resilient designs and to address the impacts of climate change and variability, to plan for disaster risk management and for contingency planning (seasonal forecasts). In some communities, climate information is being used to influence cropping systems and to promote community-based early warning systems. In general, community-level integration is low. Communities need climate information that is relevant to their applications and in their local language, but currently information remains inaccessible, too complex or irrelevant. The participants echoed the need to ensure that people most affected by climate change receive relevant information from the Government of Malawi and UMFULA. There was also a keen interest amongst the participants to ensure that there is good communication and joint action between UMFULA, the Government of Malawi and related projects. UMFULA aims to improve climate science in central and southern Africa, and to use the new understanding to improve modelling of hydrological systems (Rufiji basin in Tanzania and Lake Malawi/Shire river systems). In addition to characterising the potential impact of climate change, researchers are also looking at the implications for society. UMFULA is focussing on opportunities for anticipatory adaptation practices that will enable Malawi to deal with some of the shocks (sudden events) and stressors (long term trends) of climate change. As part of a range of recently generated products, the team presented a brief providing new climate projections for Malawi, which was well received by the participants. This event was featured in the news, locally via the Malawi Globe Newspaper and online via the Maravi Post. The panellists from the Lilongwe included:
- Ms Shamiso Najira (Deputy Director, Environmental Affairs Department, Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining),
- Mr Jolamu Nkhokwe (Director, Department of Climate Change and Meteorological Services, Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining),
- Professor Declan Conway (Grantham Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, London School of Economics and Political Science),
- Professor Andy Dougill (Dean of the Faculty of Environment, University of Leeds),
- Ms Elina Kululanga (Climate Change Information Specialist, Department of Climate Change and Meteorological Services, Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining),
- Mr Julius Ng’ombo (National Coordinator, Civil Society Network on Climate Change),
- Mr Sothini Nyirenda (Programme Analyst for Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction, United Nations Development Programme).