Experts agree on draft outline for an African Regional Climate Outlook Forum (RCOFs) best practices document
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27 November 2018
Author :   Friday Phiri
WISER delegation in Windhoek, Namibia : >> Image Credits by:Friday Phiri


WINDHOEK, Namibia (PAMACC News) - Over 15 weather experts from African Regional Climate Centres (RCCs), Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and representatives of Regional Climate Outlook Forum (RCOFs) have agreed on a draft outline and content for RCOFs best practices document.

The experts met under the auspices of the African Climate Policy Centre (ACPC) of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA’s) Weather and Climate Information Services for Africa (WISER) programme from 22-23 November in Windhoek, Namibia.

The meeting came as a result of RCOFs knowledge exchange workshops convened by ACPC earlier in the year, which have led to a rich collection of material consisting of procedures, lessons and practices that RCCs utilise in producing consensus seasonal forecasts, organizing RCOFs, engaging stakeholders and seeking their feedback.

While the knowledge shared is already benefiting the RCC focal persons who have participated, the write-shop was convened to produce a consolidated document to serve as a reference by all RCCs.

Procedures and practices applied by the RCOFs to both produce consensus seasonal forecasts and publicise them vary. While most of the RCOFs face similar challenges, especially related to engaging stakeholders, dissemination and uptake of the seasonal forecasts they produce, some RCOFs have been operational for many years and thus have lessons and experiences that can help other RCOFs avoid ‘reinventing the wheel’.  

And some of the key thematic areas deliberated on included; training and capacity building, funding mechanism and sustainability, communication and dissemination, and engaging stakeholders among others.

“As a best practice, for sustainability, it is important that member state governments take full ownership of the RCOFs process in terms of funding because the current donor based support system is not sustainable,” said Phillip Omondi of the Climate Prediction and Application Centre (ICPAC) at the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) in Eastern Africa.

Omondi also believes, as other experts do, that with changing meteorological dynamics, “continuity and consistency in training is needed to keep weather experts well-informed on latest trends and tools in the sector.”

It is generally agreed that there is a suspicious relation between scientists and media professionals. The weather experts therefore agreed on the need for enhanced relations between scientists and media. As a best practice, it was agreed, communication and dissemination should be enhanced through provision of training to media and boundary stakeholders, for the benefit of end users.

“I am particularly impressed with the way they arrive at the consensus, but I believe the way stakeholders are engaged is also key,” said Mouhamadou Bamba Sylla,Senior Scientist in climate modeling and climate change at the West African Science Service Centre on Climate Change and Adapted Land Use (WASCAL).“Having media persons, the journalists as part of the process to serve as drafters of the press releases from the technical statement is just great, as we scientists are trained in scientific language which is most often not understood by stakeholders. It is something we must improve upon to ensure that the solutions we discover reach the intended end users.”

In line with the overall objective of the write-shop, experts agreed on an outline of the RCOFs best practices document, an early draft with content to be included in the publication, assigned roles and responsibilities, timeline and publication dissemination plan.

“It is always gratifying to note the dedication and expertise from the distinguished experts who gathered here and contribute to their various regional climate outlooks for socio-economic development of our people on the continent,” said Mark Majona of the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO). “As WMO, we will continue to support and ensure that this forum continues on the continent.”

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