The African Development Bank Group launched on Monday, 3 May 2010 in Tunis, an African climate institutions support project which will run from 2010-2012. The project is estimated at US$37 million and is part of ongoing efforts by the Bank to confront the problem of climate change.
The project will support the first component of the ClimDev-Africa program, which is to enhance the capacity of African climate centers to generate and make widely available relevant climate-related information to end-users. The centers are: the African Centre for Meteorological Applications for Development (ACMAD), the Agro-meteorology and Hydrology Regional Centre (AGRHYMET), IGAD Climate Prediction and Application Centre (ICPAC), the Drought Monitoring Centre (DMC) and the Global Humanitarian Forum (GHF)
“This project is a demonstration of the Bank’s unwavering commitment to support African countries in reducing the adverse impacts of climate change while simultaneously accelerating low-carbon intensive economic growth in the continent” stated AfDB Vice-President Kamal Elkheshen at the launching ceremony. The efforts have, in particular, been marked by the adoption of policies and strategies on climate change risks, the promotion of clean energy, carbon financing, project climate proofing, and biodiversity protection through the Congo Basin Forest Fund which the AfDB is hosting.
In addition to the five regional climate centers, other beneficiaries include African climate scientists, practitioners in health, water, agriculture and other climate sensitive sectors who would require climate information for their operations, and an estimated population of 480 million people in 25 countries who directly depend on climate sensitive sectors in Africa. The climate information will be disseminated to these end-users through existing networks, NGOs/CVOs, the print and electronic media including community radio stations broadcasting in local languages.
Expected outputs from the project include trained and knowledgeable African climate scientists; climate related tools and data such as early warning systems, climate information systems, downscaled climate models and scenarios, and overall skills improvement on the use of climate information in development planning. “This would significantly improve the accuracy of information related to weather forecasting and monitoring” noted David Rogers, of the Global Humanitarian Forum (GHF), a beneficiary of the support project. “Climate change alters weather patterns and this impact heavily on the world’s poorest and most vulnerable communities. Without accurate weather forecasts farmers are unable to make informed decisions, such as when to seed and harvest their crops” Mr Rogers added.
The project additionally recognizes that awareness and training are important for any uptake of climate change initiatives and includes a comprehensive climate change awareness program for key stakeholders including the media. The interaction of different users and providers of climate services through the various Climate Outlook Forums that will be supported by the project will also provide an excellent platform for sharing knowledge and building stronger networks.
Meeting the continent’s climatic challenges
African policy and decision makers are increasingly recognizing the challenges posed by a changing climate. However, few regional or national economic and development policies directly incorporate climate variability or change, even in strongly climate sensitive sectors like agriculture and water resources. On the issue of information systems for example, Professor Laban Ogallo, Director of the IGAD Climate Prediction and Applications Center (ICPAC), notes that “some Early warning initiatives are being undertaken at both the country level and the regional level, but their effectiveness is often limited in scope and duration and do not always allow undertaking disaster and risk management processes in a comprehensive and coherent way”.
Attempts to improve climate practices in sectoral institutions are undermined by the inability of Africa’s climate centers to generate the required policy-relevant data and information. Reasons for this include: (a) declining climate observation networks in Africa (b) limited technical expertise to generate appropriate policy-relevant climate information, and (c) poor-packaging of available climate information to be useful to end users.
The Bank’s Medium-Term Strategy (2008-2012) identifies climate change as a cross cutting threat that can affect the Bank’s goal of supporting poverty reduction and sustainable development on the continent. The Bank’s Climate Risk Management and Adaptation Strategy (CRMA) sets out strategies to address climate change risks in Regional Member Countries, but the lack of appropriate climate-related information could hinder the implementation of these strategies. The strengthening of capacities of Africa’s regional climate centers will therefore ensure that no part of the continent remains disadvantaged by the lack of climate data and will also ensure that Bank policies and plans that integrate climate change concerns are addressed.
The project is in line with a proposed multi donor ClimDev Fund to be hosted by the Bank, which will finance demand-led interventions aimed at strengthening the capacity of policy makers and policy support institutions to integrate climate change in developmental processes. It will support implementation of local-level adaptation projects that demonstrate the enhanced value of climate information in achieving sustainable development. The overall expected outcome of the proposed Fund is that development policies in Africa take full account of climate risks and opportunities at all levels.
The project will thus pave the way for national level adaptation activities to be implemented on a sustainable basis through the climate information that this project will generate and the capacity of experts that it will strengthen.