Climate information services

Africa is a continent extremely vulnerable to climate variability and change.  It has a high exposure to climate shocks and stresses and relatively low capacity for adaptation.  Rain-fed agriculture, vital for much of the rural population, is particularly vulnerable.

Smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa manage 80% of the region’s farmland and contribute up to 90% of its food production. These farmers face many challenges in addition to variable weather patterns, including lack of access to quality seeds and storage facilities.

Providing timely, accurate information on climate and weather forecasts and variations to those who need it, will help to inform decisions that could increase agricultural production and reduce harvest losses.

The Climate Information Services Research Initiative is a component of a broader Learning Agenda on Climate Information Services in Sub Saharan Africa, funded by USAID. 

With the growing awareness that Climate Information Services should be better tailored to the needs of its users, we are working in partnership with a number of other agencies to examine how CIS can help smallholder farmers to build their resilience to climate shocks, protect their incomes and strengthen food security. 

In order to ensure that climate information services are effective and meet the needs of all those who need this information, the research is synthesising and analysing existing evidence on Climate Information Services (CIS) programming, including:

  • Identifying who different users of CIS are and what their needs are
  • Identifying social barriers to the use and effectiveness of CIS, including gender
  • Working with stakeholders in different spheres (smallholder farmers, met agencies, media, local government actors) to map out the components of CIS systems, such as flows of information, identify weaknesses and develop strategies to improve them – including the perspectives of marginalised people 
  • Evaluating how CIS is making a difference to community livelihoods.


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