Bridging critical gaps in climate services and applications in Africa

Dinku, Tufa; Block, Paul; Sharoff, Jessica; Hailemariam, Kinfe; Osgood, Daniel E.; del Corral, John C.; Cousin, Remi; Thomson, Madeleine C.

Sound climate risk management requires access to the best available decision-relevant climate information and the ability to use such information effectively. The availability and access of such information and the ability to use it is challenging, particularly throughout rural Africa. A gap analysis published by the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI) and the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) in 2005 explored these challenges in detail and identified four key gaps: (i) gaps in integration of climate into policy; (ii) gaps in integration of climate into practice at scale; (iii) gaps in climate services; and (iv) gaps in climate data. Though this document was published nearly nine years ago, the gaps it highlighted are still relevant today. In the last decade, IRI has been making efforts to address these critical issues in a systematic way through projects and partnerships in Africa. This paper describes IRI’s efforts in Ethiopia, a country particularly prone to climate related risks. Here we outline a creative solution to bridge the gaps in the availability, access and use of national climate information through the Enhancing National Climate Services (ENACTS) initiative. We then discuss how policy and practice has changed as a result of IRI engagement in the development of climate services in the water, public health and agricultural sectors. The work in Ethiopia is indicative of the efforts IRI is implementing in other countries in Africa and in other parts of the world.

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