Norwegian partnership adds new capacity for climate services

23 June 2015

The Norwegian Refugee Council has signed an agreement with the World Meteorological Organization to send experts into the field to increase the capacity of national institutions to develop climate information and products that will help vulnerable African countries to cope with climate change, extreme weather and uncertain rainfall patterns.

Under the Memorandum of Understanding, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) will loan meteorologists, hydrologists and other qualified personnel to help with the practical operationalization of the Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS). This is a multi-partner international initiative, spearheaded by WMO, to improve the provision and use of climate services like seasonal outlooks and drought monitors. The priority focus is on agriculture and food security, disaster risk reduction, water management, health and energy.

“Norway has always been a leader and played a decisive role in the Global Framework for Climate Services,” said WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud. “The challenge of climate change is so big that no one country or organization can address it alone. There need to be partnerships. The number of partners is growing fast. Expectations are also growing. There is an impatience that things have to move quickly. But we have to do it in a sustainable manner, he said.

“Millions of people in Africa are vulnerable to droughts, floods and other extreme weather events which could destroy crops and lead to lack of food, more poverty, displacement and ultimately a humanitarian crisis,” said Jan Egeland, Secretary-General of the Norway Refugee Council, which operates an Expert Deployment roster called NORCAP. “The cooperation between WMO and NRC/NORCAP experts aims to give vulnerable groups such as farmers, the information they need in time to take necessary precautions, so that they can adapt and reduce the risk of their livelihoods being damaged,” said Mr Egeland.

Human capacity and technical skills

One of the main aims of the GFCS is to increase and improve interactions between climate service providers and those who make use of the services in order to increase the uptake and effective use of climate information.

For example, meteorological services can often predict the late onset of the rainy season but this information does not reach the farmer on the ground who needs it most. Similarly there has traditionally been little dialogue between meteorologists and the health sector even though climate is closely linked to water and mosquito-born diseases and under-nutrition.

This is now changing thanks to the GFCS which acts as an umbrella for a wide number of organizations including WMO, the World Health Organization, World Food Programme, Food and Agriculture Organization, UN Institute for Training and Research and the International Federation of Fed Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

Under the agreement, the NRC will send experts to work in African countries as well as in regional climate centres to strengthen the human capacity and technical skills and thereby ensure the long-term sustainability of projects.

“ It makes an essential difference for people in these areas to know if it will be very hot or very wet – if they will have enough water for the cattle or to the population overall,” said NORCAP-deployee Serge Soubeiga, who will be based in the regional office of the Food and Agriculture Organization in Dakar and support the strengthening of climate services in Niger and Burkina Faso.

“The problem today is that people don’t understand the climate and weather information that is provided to them. GFCS can have an important role in building resilience by tailoring climate information to the needs of ordinary citizens, said Mr Soubeiga.

Norway is already one of the main donors to the GFCS, supporting flagship multi-agency programmes in Malawi and Tanzania.

Mr Egeland led the High-Level Task Force which laid the foundations for the GFCS.

Marit Fosse