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Global investment in African weather forecasting critical
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18th May 2021

Global investment in African weather forecasting critical

Global investment in African weather forecasting is urgently needed to meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

African lives and livelihoods are directly impacted by weather- and climate-related risks. Strengthening the capacity of African meteorological services holds transformational potential for improving the continent’s climate-resilience, protecting lives and livelihoods, and delivering socio-economic benefits in the coming decade.

Published in partnership with the Forecast-Based Preparedness Action (ForPAc) programme, our recent policy brief explores the value of international investment in African weather forecasting science and communication, including what can be achieved on a 5-10 year timeframe, key steps needed to realise the socio-economic benefits of improved weather forecasting across Africa, and challenges to wider implementation.

Key messages of the policy brief

  • Climate change will be felt through increasing frequency and severity of hazardous weather. A future response to climate change is dependent on advances in weather forecasting now.
  • Strengthening national and international meteorological and climate science capacity has the potential for transformational change and improved climate-resilience across the African continent.
  • Forecasting improvements on all timescales – hourly to seasonal – will enable regions to better predict extreme events before they occur, a vital step to providing economic, societal and environmental security for the most vulnerable.
  • Further research is required to deliver adequate performance of forecasting systems, but significant improvements in accuracy and relevance are within our reach. Training programmes, focused on capacity building in the use and manipulation of data, and the application of forecast products, should be a key priority for international agencies such as WMO and EUMETSAT.
  • Co-production of weather and climate services is needed to inform decision-making in key economic sectors (e.g. agriculture, energy, healthcare, disaster management), but depends on meteorological agencies having the tools and know-how to meet decision-makers’ needs.
  • Systematic and impact-based forecast evaluation is critical to forecast improvement, to economic sustainability of services, and for effective forecast use.
  • Partnership between academic and operational sectors is a tremendous opportunity for long-term sustainability of scientific and operational improvements.
  • Weather forecasting services should be economically self-sufficient, but core funding, led by international agencies, should be directed to the long-term investment in and maintenance of observational networks.

Ultimately, international investment today is critical to realising the socio-economic and environmental benefits of improved weather forecasting across the African continent. The recommendations outlined throughout our briefing note highlight key steps needed to support African countries in achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals by building climate-resilience, protecting lives and livelihoods, and delivering significant economic benefits in the coming decades.


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