The Climate Forecast Model: Lessons from ACCRA Uganda | Weather Forecasting

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In Uganda, roughly 70 percent of households are dependent on rain-fed agriculture. The UN
  1    THE CLIMATE FORECAST MODEL    2 Created with support from ACCRAACCRA is a consortium initiative of Oxfam GB, Overseas Development Institute (ODI),Care International, Save the Children UK and World Vision International. ACCRA is active in Ethiopia, Mozambique and Uganda and World Vision leads ACCRA in Uganda. Funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and the Climate Development and Knowledge Network (CDKN).© 2014  3 INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND Four out of five people in Uganda depend on agriculture for income and food security. Therefore, any threat to agricultural production degrades Uganda’s socio-economic status and puts 80% of the population at risk of poverty and hunger.Climate change is already affecting millions of people all over the world. Particularly rural populations are plagued by erratic seasons and increased frequency of droughts, floods, and other climate related hazards. These have led to failed harvests, food insecurity, insufficient food-intake for children and adults, and low household incomes. Lack of knowledge and information on weather and climate information exacerbate these impacts. Because of changed weather patterns, farmers who rely only on indigenous weather forecasting methods find it difficult to predict when to plant due to changes in the parameters used to forecast. Even when they do, they cannot determine the amount of rains or the cessation period due to changes in climate. Consequently, farmers lose their crops caused by unpredictable climate and weather conditions. Due to logistical challenges, developing countries often experience difficulties in distributing information to farmers on weather and climate conditions. In Uganda, the seasonal climate forecasts issued by the Uganda National Meteorological Authority (UNMA) have been bulky, written in technical language using complicated terminology and only published in English, which is not widely spoken by the rural population. Furthermore, the forecasts were only disseminated through email from UNMA to other Government ministries, departments and Local Governments. However, due to unreliable internet connections, printing materials, lack of defined distribution procedures as well as a non-existent dissemination budget, the information seldom reached the end users especially the rural communities. Because of the untimely delivery and the incomprehensible messages of the forecast, many farmers have lost faith in scientific meteorology services and rely almost fully on their experience and indigenous knowledge for farming decision making. Research carried out by UNMA and ACCRA shows that even if they receive the scientific forecast, a large proportion of the rural population still relies on the traditional methods of forecasting. Farmers report that although some of these methods are no longer accurate due to disappearance of certain insects, birds and plants and although the accuracy is very low (10%) they continue to have more confidence in the old familiar methods. Therefore there is a great need for the provision of accurate scientific seasonal weather forecast including climate change adaption strategies to farmers in rural communities. To increase farmers resilience and adaptive capacity to climate change related impacts and disasters and strengthen early warning, UNMA with support from the Africa Climate Change resilience Alliance (ACCRA) - have introduced a simplified easily understandable seasonal weather forecast that is translated into local languages with sector specific advisories.  The initiative started in 2012 and this booklet is about the experiences and lessons learned during the first two years.  4  Technical weather forecast TranslationPress release Dissemination  THE WEATHER FORECAST MODEL Ugandan National  Technical Expert Meeting End users: Rural farmersUser feedback surveys 145623 Local leaders via the emailFM radio stationsPrimary and secondary schoolsPrint mediaCommunity and regional meeting placesMobile phone technology
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