CICERO - Center for International Climate Research

Climate services in East-Africa: a flagship programme of the Global Framework for Climate Services

Published 17.12.2014

How can end-users, from small-scale farmers and pastoralists to national governments, make better use of climate information? CICERO contributes social science expertise to a multi-stakeholder international programme on climate adaptation.

The pilot project “Climate Services Adaptation Programme in Africa”, funded by the Government of Norway, is the first multi-agency initiative to be implemented under the Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS). The aim of this flagship programme is to co-develop user-driven climate services relevant to agriculture and food security, health, and disaster risk reduction, working with providers and end-users of this information in Malawi and Tanzania. CICERO and CMI lead the social science research component of the programme.

Climate services – a prerequisite for adaptation

The overall objective of the GFCS Adaptation Programme in Africa is to establish functioning national systems for the delivery of climate services to multiple users in Tanzania and Malawi. Focusing on three global challenges, agriculture and food security, health and disaster risk reduction, the programme aims to:

  1. At the national level: ensure greater and more effective cross-sectoral planning, co-production and application of climate services;
  2. At sub-national to local level: significantly strengthen the capacity of end-users to demand, access and benefit from co-produced climate services that are relevant for agriculture and food security (including nutrition) , health and disaster risk reduction
  3. At the international level: improve understanding of the effectiveness of the GFCS in climate risk management and adaptation, drawing on the knowledge gained during the project.

Ultimately, the programme aims to reduce peoples’ vulnerability and increase their resilience to the impacts of weather and climate-related hazards such as droughts and flooding and associated health risks including malnutrition, cholera and malaria. Strengthened capacity to develop and use climate services in the two countries, and combining cutting-edge science with traditional knowledge, are two key aspects of the programme.

Co-producing knowledge with end-users

Joint knowledge production, or knowledge co-production, is one of the most important aspects of the GFCS Adaptation Programme in Africa, and an area where CICERO and CMI social scientists are contributing their expertise to the programme. End-users of climate information exist at all levels, from national to regional and district level governments, to farmers, pastoralists and fishermen at the grassroots level. Meteorological services in many developing countries lack sufficient human, financial and technical resources to engage with end-users and produce climate information in a format and language that is applicable to decision making. On the end-user side, the ability and institutional forums to articulate information needs, and to understand, translate and use existing climate information are often lacking. People’s willingness to use climate information moreover depends on how credible and trustworthy they find the information to be. Understanding institutional bottlenecks, cultural norms and end-user preferences and needs is crucial to designing climate services that lead to action. The GFCS Adaptation Programme in Africa aims to foster an iterative exchange of knowledge between providers and users of climate information in order to ensure that climate information and services respond to end-users needs.

A unique partnership between social scientists and development experts

The GFCS Adaptation Programme in Africa represents a unique partnership between climate and social scientists, researchers, development and humanitarian agencies and other key user sectors. Programme partners include the World Meteorological Organization, the World Food Programme, the World Health Organization, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), the Center for International Climate and Environmental Research – Oslo (CICERO) and the Chr. Michelsen Institute (CMI). National governments and providers of meteorological services in Malawi and Tanzania are also centrally involved in planning and implementing the project.

Contact information

Project leader Tanzania: Jennifer West
CICERO Center for Climate and Environmental Research – Oslo

Project leader Malawi: Arne Tostensen

Christian Michelsens Institute


Vaughan, C. and S. Dessai (2014) 'Climate Services for Society: Origins, Institutional Arrangements, and Design Elements for an Evaluation Framework', Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change 5(5): 587-603.