Transforming Climate Services in Africa One Country at a Time

This post originally appeared on the World Policy Institute website.

Ten million people in Ethiopia are considered food insecure due to the onset of drought in 2015. From Lesotho to the Sahel, African countries are grappling with the medium- and long-term impacts that climate change will have on their people, economies, and politics. However, even as they grapple with such issues, too many governments lack the basic data necessary to make informed predictions and plans to mitigate risk for the next generation.

Stepping in to address the issues of climate data availability is a team from International Research Institute for Climate and Society at Columbia University’s Earth Institute. Led by Tufa Dinku, the team has developed an initiative to improve climate data collection and distribution in low resource areas. ENACTS, which stands for Enhancing National Climate Services, combines data from proxies, such as digital elevation models, to provide accurate and spatially complete climate conditions even where reporting stations don’t exist.

This paper from World Policy Institute’s Program for African Thought and IRI unravels the challenges of climate monitoring in Africa, how previously unavailable climate data could be used by federal and local government to address climate-related risks through policy, and the foreseen impacts of new information products on sectors from health care to agriculture. Drawing on information in this report, governments in The Gambia, Mali, Ghana, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Tanzania, Madagascar, Zambia, Kenya, and soon Uganda will have ENACTS as a crucial tool at their disposal.