'Future climate for Africa' - pointers on resilience from Zambia

29/05/2014 - by Bettina Koelle, Climate Centre, Lusaka

Officials, academics, scientists and development practitioners last week gathered at two workshops in Zambia to discuss the country’s future climate and how climate science can support sustainable development.

The workshops were facilitated in partnership by the Zambia Red Cross, the Climate Centre and the UK Met Office as a pilot for Future Climate for Africa (FCFA) – a five-year research programme funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).

The FCFA’s “focus will be on advancing scientific knowledge, understanding and prediction of African climate variability and change on 5- to 40-year timescales,” according to the NERC website, “together with support for better integration of science into longer-term decision-making, leading to improved climate risk management and the protection of lives and livelihoods.”

At the Zambian workshops – in the capital, Lusaka, and the city of Livingstone, in Southern Province – participants explored climate-related shocks and trends affecting development planning and discussed development options, and tried to relate these to climate science.

Intense thinking

Two key questions posed were: How can we ensure sustainable, climate-resilient development in Zambia? How can scientific climate information support this process?

The workshops included interactive learning exercises and games (photo) to stimulate discussion and formulate strategies for the future.

This participatory methodology generated intense debate and thinking on the links between current and future climate shocks, and how these would affect long-term development, infrastructure and livelihoods.

The workshops also highlighted the importance of developing Zambia’s capacity to produce and update its own climate information, and integrate it into long-term decision-making. While good historical climate data does exist for the country, it is often inaccessible to decision-makers.

A follow-up workshop is planned for September in Lusaka, with a final report due out shortly afterwards.

A participant at the Livingstone FCFA pilot workshop plays Headlines, a participatory game that explores the consequences of development that does not take climate into account. (Photo: Bettina Koelle/Climate Centre)