Published | 3rd July 2017

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Malawi Climate Information Services Country Report

Prior knowledge of future climate and extreme weather events would capacitate individuals and communities to adapt their agricultural practices to the predicted climatic conditions. This would reduce the negative impacts of climate change and allow communities to exploit any opportunities that arise. Climate Information Services (CIS) generate and disseminate climate information to inform communities of predicted climate conditions and possible actions. While the Malawi Department for Climate Change and Meteorological Services (DCCMS) has the capacity to generate seasonal forecasts, the effective communication of such climate information has historically been challenging, particularly to remote rural communities. Moreover, the forecasts are often technical in nature and the principles of probability and uncertainty inherent to climate forecasts are not easily explained to non-scientists. Communities receiving the forecasts are thus often unable to understand them and apply the information in adapting their livelihood practices to predicted climatic conditions. To address these problems, CARE has developed the Participatory Scenario Planning (PSP) process – an approach to CIS that is grounded in Community-based Adaptation (CBA). The PSP process is transdisciplinary in nature, enabling technical experts to collaborate with local community members to interpret climate forecasts and develop advisories that are evidence-based and appropriate to local conditions. First trialled in Kenya in 2011 by the CARE Adaptation Learning Programme (ALP), PSPs have since been implemented in Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi and Niger. In Ethiopia and Malawi, PSPs have been adopted independently of ALP via a Training-of-Trainers (ToT) approach.

The PSP process was first introduced in Malawi in 2013, following a practitioners’ training workshop organised by CARE and attended by development practitioners from nine African countries. This was followed by a training for facilitators that was held in Malawi in March 2014, organised by CARE in collaboration with Malawi’s Civil Society Network on Climate Change (CISONECC) and a facilitator from
the Kenya Meteorological Department. CISONECC, in partnership with the Enhancing Community Resilience Programme (ECRP), held the first PSP workshops in Malawi. ECRP has invested in the development of climate monitoring and early warning systems through their DISCOVER
programme. Monitoring uses simple equipment such as rain and river gauges to collect data that is shared through an information centre, specifically designed to be accessible to local community members.

In 2016, CARE commissioned a regional impact assessment of the ALP approach to CIS in addressing climate change adaptation across Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Niger and Malawi. The objective of this assessment was to investigate the contribution of community-based CIS to CBA. The assessment investigated four main aspects of the PSP process in separate lines of investigation.

  1. Implementation process (method): assessment of the practice of PSP principles implemented. There are seven principles for successful implementation;
  2. Communication: assessment of the reach of information, the content and quality of advisories produced and channels of communication for climate information that have developed over time.
  3. Use and impact: assessment of the use and impact of the advisories on users, intermediaries and producers.
  4. Sustainability: assessment of the potential for the process to be long-lasting beyond ECRP and CISONECC facilitating the PSP process in Malawi.

Related Resources:

Read the Kenya climate information services country report here

Read the Niger climate information services country report here

Read the Ghana climate information services country report here

Read the Ethiopia climate information services country report here

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