2nd leg of the pilot exchange between CAFOD and Liverpool University 12 and 13 May 2009

Learning from the second leg of the exchange between Liverpool University and CAFOD

This was held in CAFOD’s head office on 12 and 13 May, with participation of Andy Morse and Cyril Caminade (Liverpool), Emma Visman (HFP) and hosted and coordinated by Mike Edwards, with meeting and discussions with CAFOD colleagues.

The initial discussion was a catch up on relevant initiatives since the first meeting, including the development of the Climate and weather site for humanitarian organisations initiated by Andy. It is clear that there is a need for a site where relevant climate information and tools can be pooled. This does not yet appear to exist. It could be relatively easy to establish but will require quality control, maintenance and updating.

The exchange group met with Matthew Carter, CAFOD’s Head of Emergencies, to provide an overview of the exchange and proposed further developments.

In the afternoon, the exchange took the form of a presentation and discussion meeting with a cross-departmental group of CAFOD colleagues.  Mike provided a presentation on why climate information is important for the organisation, and the need to understand the information available. How can we ‘do’ climate change adaptation work without analysing climate information: he cited the example of climate models for Uganda which, dependent on the model used, show a projection of either a 50% increase or decrease in rain, underlying the need for higher resolution information. He also noted that climate change presents a new type of issue for humanitarian and development organisations, ‘an issue that we don’t understand’. He asked participants to:

  • Think about how climate science could help you in your work?
  • What would you like to know about the weather in your region?
  • What would you do with the information?
  • How could partners use it?

Emma provided a background on the work of HFP, to contextualize the exchanges.

Cyril then presented an approach for the proposed more extended exchange, focusing on Bolivia – as proposed in the first leg of the exchange. He brought together climate information (seasonal forecasting and climate change models) with data on maize production. He found there to be a strong correlation between El Nino and decrease in maize production/flooding. While information from seasonal forecasting on El Nino could warn of a potential decrease in the coming’s season’s crop production, the connection between El Nino and general circulation models is not constant/ ‘the teleconnection is not stationary’. It would probably still be possible to grow maize within the projected temperature increase, even if using the highest projected rates from climate models.

Concerns over the use of climate change models include the inability to adequately input topographic variability. The importance of this issue became clear as the proposed methodology was contextualised.

Pablo Regalsky, from CENDA, CAFOD’s partner in Bolivia, commented on Cyril’s initial analysis. His organisation is not for development, but for ethno-development.

Pablo referred to information on the correlation between natural disasters and globalization in the Economist. His organisation identifies poverty in terms of child nutritional levels, rather than in economic terms. The organisation has found that those less reliant on market production are less vulnerable to food insecurity than those dependent on producing for a global market. While Cyril had thought that the rise in maize production was linked to population increases, Pablo said that the link was rather to globalization – starting in the 1980’s – and to production of maize for livestock for export. His analysis immediately highlighted the need for such scientific/humanitarian exchanges to ensure scientific support from reliable resources on site.

Pablo described the resilience strategies employed by those working in mountainous areas which receive rains with high degrees of local variability. Coping strategies have led farmers to develop plots in areas at different altitudes, to ensure that at least some succeed. This has consequently led to specific work patterns.

Andy thought that the complex system described by Pablo would readily lend itself to agent based modelling.

There are clearly issues around the harnessing of indigenous climate knowledge in ways which do not exploit and deliver return.

Andy clarified the sources of climate information available, including:

  • 6 month seasonal forecasting, the performance of which can be assessed
  • GCMs, of which there are more than 20 models produced by different climate institutions
  • Regional climate change models, which are at a resolution of 25km over Europe and 50km over Europe. These are more able to take in topography.
  • Emerging decadal forecasting, extended seasonal forecasting

There is a need to establish the scale which has meaning for the user.

Identified climate information needs

A ‘travelling roadshow’ of climate information for humanitarian and development organisations. Some means to provide a basic understanding and training in the appropriate use of relevant climate information materials.

On the 2nd day we discussed options for this. There seemed to be an opportunity for both a regional training of trainers (TOT) programme and for a self-contained computer course. The TOT would lead to expectations and would necessitate sustained and organisational support, but is considered very relevant, especially if it strengthens and extends the outreach capacity of existing national and regional meteorological institutions and bodies.

We discussed tools for ‘coping with climate variability’, including the scenario development exercise work employed by Natasha Grist at Tyndall.

CAFOD is establishing a website for the various aspects of its climate related work. This will include components on: the exchange with Liverpool and on climate change adaptation with INTRAC and One World Action.

Also identified was the need for a clearing house on what we are planning to do, what we are doing and what we have done with regard to climate change adaptation, planning for climate crises, building relevant tools and pooling relevant climate materials. A number of activities discussed appeared to be already ongoing or proposed within other organisations. Maximising potential opportunities for greater collaboration could greatly strengthen work on climate change across the sector. There is a need to share tools developed and avoid duplication, double booking partners and over covering certain regions. This is a role which could, once again, be taken on by the DFID-supported climate change centre. To promote sharing of relevant materials, the system would need to ensure due accreditation of the authoring of materials and assessment of the quality of the products for users,  through some form of peer review. One proposal is for a Wikipedia style format for training tools.

Learning for the dialogue

The importance of achieving organisational buy in for the dialogue.

We need to identify or develop a training module on the humanitarian sector, to support the dialogue with scientists.

To do

CAFOD and Liverpool University are keen to develop a three-year exchange project. Building on the collaboration which CAFOD has already established with UCL Benfield, the extended in-country exchange would require cross-sectoral expertise, including from amongst others: a social scientist, a climate scientists, an agriculturalist and/or food economist, expertise in water and health. Tim Wheeler at Reading was again mentioned with regard to agriculture. Benfield does not currently have a focus on meteorological hazards, but focuses on geo-physical hazards. When considering where to focus the more extended international exchange, there is a need to consider regions where models have predictability, such as South Africa, where there is a long time series. There is also a need to consider where climate information has immediate practical use: seasonal forecasting is of immediate use, and where the long term models may, at present, be of limited practical use.

CAFOD are proposing a regional workshop in September in East Africa, with input from UCL. It was proposed that this be extended for participation from Liverpool and HFP.

Look at Harvard Humanitarian site. This has much relevant climate information material.

Find Pablo’s Economist reference.

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