Authors : Joseph Daron, Mary Allen, Meghan Bailey, Luisa Ciampi, Rosalind Cornforth, Cecilia Costella, Nicolas Fournier, Richard Graham, Kathrin Hall, Cheikh Kane, Issa Lele, Celia Petty, Nyree Pinder, Jennifer Pirret, Jessica Stacey, Helen Ticehurst
Affiliated organisation : Climate and Development Journal
Site of publication : tandfonline.com
Type of publication : Research paper
Date of publication : November 2020
Across the Sahel, communities depend on adequate seasonal rainfall to sustain livelihoods. Strategies exist to cope with climate extremes and high year-to-year variability in rainfall. To strengthen coping mechanisms to climate extremes and variability, and account for changing climate risks, international donor agencies and national governments are working together to develop shock-responsive, adaptive social protection (ASP) systems in the Sahel. Coupling early warning systems with climate forecasts and livelihoods information has the potential to enable ASP through triggering actions ahead of a shock, reducing the time taken for needs assessments prior to delivering a response.
Adaptive social protection as a response to climate shocks
Social protection has been broadly defined as ‘public actions taken in response to levels of vulnerability, risk and deprivation, which are deemed socially unacceptable within a given polity and society’, or ‘the set of policies and programmes designed to reduce and prevent poverty and vulnerability throughout the life cycle’.
ASP aims to enable more effective responses to climate shocks through integrating climate change adaptation, disaster risk reduction and social protection into a coherent response to build resilience, protecting poor households from climate and other shocks before they occur.
For ASP to be effective, climate and livelihoods information needs to be integrated to determine the sensitivity to climate shocks among different communities at different times of the year. This information is critical to enable impact-based forecasting to help target ASP interventions and support post disaster response and rehabilitation.
Adaptive social protection and climate information landscape in the Sahel
The World Bank’s Sahel Adaptive Social Protection Programme (SASPP) is a major initiative aiming to build the resilience of people at national, community and household levels so they can better prepare for climate hazards and other shocks, protect their assets and livelihoods, and lessen humanitarian crises. Given the prevalence of food insecurity in the region, other regional and international organizations, including the World Food Programme and the Food and Agriculture Organization, are working closely with the SASPP and relevant government departments.
Several regional organizations have a role in providing and translating weather and climate services for use in different sectors in the Sahel, each with different priorities and capabilities. The six focal countries of the World Bank SASPP all have national meteorological and hydrological services (NMHS) organizations, mandated to provide weather and climate information and services to support government decision-making. Many institutions and regional initiatives (e.g. ARC) are also strongly supported by international partners and climate service providers.
For ASP to be effective, climate and livelihoods information needs to be integrated to determine the sensitivity to climate shocks among different communities at different times of the year. This information is critical to enable impact-based forecasting to help target ASP interventions and support post disaster response and rehabilitation
As rain-fed agro-pastoralism is a key livelihood sector, research also assessed relationships between past observed seasonal rainfall in the monsoon season (June to September) and crop production for four major crops across the Sahel. Results show higher rainfall is associated with increased crop production at national scales, providing a basis for developing tailored seasonal forecasts, combined with knowledge of local farming practices to inform food security decisions in ASP systems.
Lesson 1 – suitability of climate forecasts: there is potential to use seasonal forecasts in ASP but more work is needed to develop reliable and relevant information
Seasonal climate forecasts have potential to inform ASP, but the current availability and quality of information is variable. NMHSs have an important role to use local knowledge to tailor and communicate seasonal forecast information to target audiences. Yet not all NMHSs are able to utilize dynamical model output and many do not have access to relevant non-climate datasets to further understand climate impacts (e.g. agriculture or economic datasets).
Lesson 2 – entry points for forecast information: opportunities for integrating seasonal climate forecasts into SASPP initiatives were difficult to identify
Since seasonal forecasts are probabilistic, ASP interventions would need to be informed or triggered using a probability threshold (e.g. 40% chance of very dry conditions), carrying a risk of acting in vain. For seasonal climate forecasts to inform the scale-up of ASP, systems must therefore be able to accommodate forecast uncertainty, and it’s unclear if SASPP initiatives could utilize such information.
Lesson 3 – integration with early warning systems: seasonal climate forecasts cannot easily be incorporated in existing early warning systems used to inform ASP
Well established information tools and early warning systems for food security and nutrition are available in the region, which can inform ASP.
- Promote sustained dialogue between social protection and climate stakeholders
- Improve understanding of climate impacts on livelihoods and response options to help tailor seasonal forecasts for ASP
- Sustain funding and investment in climate and livelihoods research, data and services
- Provide opportunities for continued training and capacity building within the climate service provider community and social protection stakeholders.
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