Designing user-driven climate services. What we can learn from the Climandes project: A checklist for practitioners, scientists and policy makers

Monday, October 1, 2018

Connecting the last mile: How to make climate services more inclusive?

The lack of local weather and climate information in remote rural areas complicates adaptation strategies to climate extremes for the concerned communities. Climandes, a GFCS cooperation project between the Peruvian and Swiss weather services Senamhi and MeteoSwiss, developed an approach to setup a User Interface Platform (UIP) in order to systematically integrate small-scale farmers in the Andean highland into the design and delivery of climate services. This paper outlines the project’s approach and reports key findings and lessons learnt.

2016 was marked by one of the strongest El Niño events on record, affecting more than 60 million people worldwide and calling for USD 3.6 billion in humanitarian aid. In the same year, the number of chronically undernourished people in the world increased to 815 million, which represents a first rise after a long lasting downward trend. Besides political instability, the El Niño-driven weather patterns were the key drivers for this intensification of global food insecurity.

What makes the 2016 El Niño noteworthy is that a forecast of the event was available with significant lead times, yet this critical information was not known, accessed or understood by a large part of agricultural communities living in remote rural areas in low- and middle-income countries. This is all the more significant in view of the fact that these population groups are particularly vulnerable to weather and climate events as their livelihoods heavily depend on climate-sensitive agricultural production. Community-based climate services, that is user-tailored weather and climate information overlaid with agronomic expertise and co-developed with the target population, serve as a critical aid for decision-making to adapt to such extreme climate conditions.

Climandes, a twinning project between the Swiss and Peruvian weather services, developed a two-stage approach to design evidence-based climate services with an active and early involvement of people and communities in the agricultural sector. Our evaluation results and project outcomes indicate that the user engagement fostered a strong increase of trust in the weather service Senamhi and in the information provided.

In the publication Designing user-driven climate we share our practical experiences of the project implementation providing guidance for similar initiatives in low- and middle-income countries. It represents a systematic description of key steps that proved to be indispensable for the implementation of meaningful and sustainable climate services tailored to the needs of agricultural communities. By focusing particularly on the last mile to reach the most vulnerable and marginalized population groups, we strive to make climate services more inclusive.

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