Participants of the training session learning how to downscale climate information to specific geographical areas
Government staff and national experts from 5 countries in East Africa have been trained to ‘downscale’ climate information from the regional level to specific spots around Lake Victoria, and in the process, considerably helping local communities to prepare for climate change.
Whilst climate data is available for the Lake Victoria region, it is often not accessible to those who need it most, such as rain-dependent farmers and herders. Moreover, the data is mostly at a spatial scale that is too large to be relevant for specific communities in specific areas.
For these reasons, experts across Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania, Burundi and Uganda visited Nairobi to receive training on how to break down regional climate data into more precise areas, known as ‘downscaling’. Participants were also trained on how to identify the best communication channels to reach climate-vulnerable people on the ground.
The training was provided by IGAD Climate Prediction and Application Centre (ICPAC) in Nairobi.
Climate change in Lake Victoria has resulted in numerous negative impacts for local people. One of the participants of the training event, a Ugandan hydrologist named Pamela Agaba, explained: “Near Lake Victoria, we are facing both extremes. In the dry seasons, you have low flows in the rivers that feed into the lake, and a lot of drought. There is little access to water. Whereas in the rainy seasons, we have really high flows and floods in the catchment area of the lake.”
The negative effects of climate change disproportionately affect marginalized and rural communities within the Lake Victoria Basin. Agaba continued: “The cattle-keepers find it difficult to find water for their animals, and farmers are being forced to cultivate in the buffer zones of the lake because they need water.”
To reduce the impact of climate change on communities in the area, the Lake Victoria Basin Commission (LVBC) Secretariat and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) developed a project titled Adaptation to Climate Change in Lake Victoria Basin (ACC-LVB). The project is funded by the Adaptation Fund.
The project is supporting local communities in the 5 countries that border Lake Victoria to build resilience to climate change, particularly for those whose livelihoods are threatened by decreases in water quality and availability in the Lake Victoria Basin.
Many studies have shown that one of the most effective ways to build resilience for rainfed farmers and herders is to improve the delivery of accurate and timely climate information, tailored for specific communities and their needs. Put simply, if communities are unaware of the climate predictions, then they cannot prepare. Such preparations might involve selling their cattle early or moving their animals to another region.
Therefore, the UNEP-backed project involved the training of meteorological, agricultural and water experts from the 5 five relevant countries. Some of these experts included the national project coordinators for the ACC-LVB project.
The event was a form of Training of Trainers (ToT) and therefore the participants will now go on to teach staff in their own countries about downscaling.
As part of the training, participants were shown how to use GeoCLIM technology, a type of software that combines past and present climate hazards with available data from weather stations to provide a prediction for seasonal rainfall.
Pamela Agaba, who is also the national project coordinator for Uganda, continued: “This technology will impact my work a lot moving forward. Different climate impacts are experienced in different parts of the country, so we can now have more targeted information for communities on the ground.”
Abebe Tadege, Climate Change Officer at IGAD Climate Prediction and Application Centre, explained: “The participants were trained on climate projection tools, so they can predict how the coming months will be – wet? dry? normal? This gives you an idea of how to take action for the coming seasons.”
Tadege continued: “We try to tell people that they need to be climate literate. You cannot ignore it. One way or another you will be affected. That’s the message we want the participants to grasp.”
A report last month by the Global Commission on Adaptation found that strengthening early warning climate systems can deliver an economic benefit-cost ratio of around 9:1, which far surpasses other adaptation actions like making infrastructure more resilient, which scored just less than 5:1.
Beyond the climate training and forecasting, the ACC-LVB project is also boosting climate-resilience of local communities through on-the-ground solutions for water conservation, climate-smart agricultural techniques and ecosystem-based adaptation interventions
Post by UNEP