The Utility of Weather and Climate Information for Adaptation Decision-making: Current Uses and Future Prospects in Africa and India
Developing countries share many common challenges in addressing current and future climate risks. A key barrier to managing these risks is the limited availability of accessible, reliable and relevant weather and climate information. Despite continued investments in Earth System Modelling, and the growing provision of climate services across Africa and India, there often remains a mismatch between available information and what is needed to support on-the-ground decision-making. In this paper, we outline the range of currently available information and present examples from Africa and India to demonstrate the challenges in meeting information needs in different contexts. A review of literature supplemented by interviews with experts suggests that externally provided weather and climate information has an important role in building on local knowledge to shape understanding of climate risks and guide decision-making across scales. Moreover, case studies demonstrate that successful decision-making can be achieved with currently available information. However, these successful examples predominantly use daily, weekly and seasonal climate information for decision-making over short time horizons. Despite an increasing volume of global and regional climate model simulations, there are very few clear examples of long-term climate information being used to inform decisions at subnational scales. We argue that this is largely because the information produced and disseminated is often ill-suited to inform decision-making at the local scale, particularly for farmers, pastoralists and sub-national governments. Even decision-makers involved in long-term planning, such as national government officials, find it difficult to plan using decadal and multi-decadal climate projections because of issues around uncertainty, risk averseness and constraints in justifying funding allocations on prospective risks. Drawing on lessons learnt from recent successes and failures, a framework is proposed to help increase the utility and uptake of both current and future climate information across Africa and India.