"Climate Services for Africa," a European Commission side-event organized in partnership with the Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS), brought together together global providers and users of climate services. It shared insights into present and future solutions that will assist with events such as El Niño and enhance the ability to address the challenges of adaptation, mitigation and disaster risk reduction, in Africa and around the world.
The European Union has a number of climate service initiatives, including the pre-operational phase of new Copernicus climate change service, which will offer information and indices, open to the worldwide community free of charge. It has issued a 72 million Euro call for proposals for research on climate services under its Horizon 2020 programme on research and innovation.
“Different actors are already implementing different elements of climate services. By working together, we will ensure effective use of expertise and resources to enhance delivery of climate services and maximize the benefit of investments being made,” said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.
WMO is spearheading the Global Framework for Climate Services in partnership with many other organizations including the World Health Organization, World Food Programme and Food and Agriculture Organization. It aims to improve climate services like seasonal forecasts, especially for priority sectors of agriculture and food security, health, water management, disaster risk reduction and energy.
“We depend on climate services in the health sector but we don’t depend on them as much as we should,” said Diarmid Campbell-Lendrum of the World Health Organization. He pointed out that 600,000 people die of malaria and 600,000 children die of diarrhea each year, both of which are climate-sensitive.
“We are now starting to make better use of climate services for this,” he said.
Carlo Scaramella, deputy regional director of WFP’s Regional Bureau for Middle East, Nrth Africa, Central Asia and East Europe, said that climate services were necessary to tackled a “very complicated future” given that climate change is an accelerator and multiplier of risk. The GFCS provided a united vision of the challenges and how to tackle them, he said.
“The GFCS projects in Malawi and Tanzania were very helpful at the time of El Niño in addressing the needs of farmers, » he said. « Having that project in place made it possible to intervene early on and help farmers make the right choices about when and what to plant.,” he said.
Malawi and Tanzania are hosting two pilot GFCS projects, funded by the Government of Norway, to improve climate services and help climate adaptation.
Ladislaus Chang’a, of Tanzania’s Meteorological Department, said thanks to GFCS support, Tanzania was now hosting three climate outlook forums per year to issue seasonal forecasts, involving both stakeholders and media.
He said it was a “bitter-sweet” experience. On the one hand, climate services were being developed. to the benefit of local communities and with their involvement. But at the same time, the gaps in the observation network number of rainfall measuring stations were increasing, he said.