Uncertainty reduction in Models For Understanding deveLopment Applications (UMFULA)

Lead Research Organisation: University of Sussex
Department Name: Sch of Global Studies


Abstracts are not currently available in GtR for all funded research. This is normally because the abstract was not required at the time of proposal submission, but may be because it included sensitive information such as personal details.

Planned Impact

Who might benefit from our research? Case study participants: Rufiji river basin: the government River Basin Water Office and the public-private partnership Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania; southern Malawi: Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation and Water Resources, Chikwawa, Nsanje and Thoyolo District Assemblies. Case study outputs will benefit multilateral development banks and the southern African Climate Resilient Infrastructure Facility-CRIDF, who advise on infrastructural development. National and regional decision-makers in C&SA and sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) including Southern African Development Community, WATERNET, CRIDF. Programmes concerned with climate services, e.g. Global Framework for Climate Services, CCAFS, IRI, CLIVAR, ESPA, CARIAA ASSAR. Met Services in Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa and Tanzania. Universities of Zambia and Yaounde. African citizens vulnerable to climate related risks, or reliant on infrastructure/resources that may be affected by climate change (now-40 years on).
How might they benefit from our research? Through deep engagement, national and local government and private sector stakeholders in both Malawi and Tanzania will be enabled to drive a process of improved use of climate services in decision-making processes. This is critical in both case study contexts which have been selected based on the climate risk to water and agriculture infrastructure and the implications it has for economic development. The process will be supported by the Met Services whose capacity will be built to produce country-specific contextualized projections based on the outputs of climate models given their responsibility in country to do so. Active engagement of Met Services within the case study co-production will also build partnerships that extend beyond the project lifetime and can inform on-going country policy processes: for example the development of the National Adaptation Plans. The ultimate aim is that improved use of climate services in decision-making benefits African citizens, not only in Malawi and Tanzania but also further afield, through the proactive communication of robust theoretical and applied findings to decision-makers across C&SA and further disseminated for use throughout SSA. By engaging with major initiatives such as GFCS (which is piloting programmes in both case study countries) we will have outreach and potential impact well beyond the two case studies. Univ Zambia & Yaounde and African Met Services will participate in a 'big science' project involving state-of-the-art high resolution models.
As a team we have a strong track record of applied research and proven impact in climate science and adaptation across Africa. Our approach includes
Co-production of knowledge and stakeholder-driven deliberative processes as the key methodology in the case studies; in which case study participants are engaged throughout the process and have co-ownership of the process and, by definition, the findings will be targeted to be of direct applicability and achieve maximum development impact.
Embedding impact in our management structures to maximize impact over the lifetime of the project and ensure post-project sustainability
1) Impact sub-group led by KULIMA
2) Advisory Panel, high level strategic guidance, through bi-annual TCs with representation from key regional organisations, public and private sector, donors and multi-laterals (eg agreed participation of World Bank staff)
A proactive approach to collaboration with other RPCs and the CCKE, eg invitation to sit on panels to maximise synergistic findings and outreach opportunities
Seizing opportunities for development of African capacity through providing bursaries to students in C&SA countries, making it a policy for senior team members and PDRAs to give guest lectures/research training sessions during C&SA visits (at university and other organisations eg Government) and offer some remote research co-supervision.


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Description We have numerous papers published on the climate science of southern and central Africa that together represent a a significant contribution to knowledge of this poorly understood region. We have also published several papers on climate information and policy processes in the region that highlight opportunities and barriers to furthering action on climate change adaptation. UMFULA research has generated key advances in the understanding of the processes and features of central and southern Africa's climate system. With better understanding of the key features of the circulation we can analyse the mechanisms by which climate models simulate the climate system in order to evaluate the credibility of the modelled future climate. This approach is in contrast to more dated approaches whereby model output is simply statistically summarised. UMFULA has advanced an existing challenge - the ability of climate models to capture the key features that drive the future climate in central and southern Africa. For example, we have confidence that extreme drying is unlikely in southern Africa because the extreme drying occurs in climate models that simulate far too much rainfall in the current period. These models dry out in the future to a climate regime that is very similar to current climate. However, models with a current rainfall regime that is more realistic simulate drying, but not extreme drying. UMFULA supported two case studies in Malawi and Tanzania that focus on managing water with increasing demands for agricultural production and hydropower (the so called 'water-energy-food nexus') under a changing climate. Through working with stakeholders we have identified how climate information is used, barriers to its use, how it can be improved and how it can inform decision-making processes in river basin planning. Consultation has highlighted the importance of political influences, policy process and local perspectives at all levels of decision-making processes. Understanding the likely future nature of climate risk is a key component of adaptation and climate-resilient planning, but given future uncertainty it is important to design approaches that are strongly informed by local considerations and are robust to uncertainty, i.e. options that work reasonably well across a range of uncertain future climate (and other) conditions.
Exploitation Route Our outputs are being used directly by civil servants (DFID UK, GIZ Tanzania, DFID Malawi), we have generated wide impact through engaging in well-attended webinars and producing a range of non-academic outputs (briefs, key messages report, web material such as blogs) and organising workshops/discussions with various groups of stakeholders. Through these ongoing dissemination activities we anticipate our approaches and findings will begin to be adopted by national stakeholders (in academia, civil service and civil society). We have provide inputs into national policies and strategies in Malawi. For example, we regularly engaged with the National Technical and Steering Committees on Climate Change in Malawi and we provided comments on the draft National Resilience Strategy and its Implementation Plan.At the invitation of our partner, the Department of Climate Change and Meteorological Services, we also provided inputs to Malawi's Third National Communication to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Energy,Environment

URL http://www.futureclimateafrica.org
Description We prepared a series of Country Climate Briefs (for Malawi and Tanzania), river basin planning assessments (Lake Malawi and Rufiji) and two on Using Climate Models. We have distributed these briefs widely and received positive feedback from many stakeholders - in government, academia and civil society. We had specific positive feedback from staff members in UK DFID and German GIZ. The briefs have informed development of country programmes (DFID in Malawi and GIZ in Tanzania). Our findings have been presented in various workshops in Malawi and Tanzania to different groups of stakeholders (government, academic, civil society) through these interactions our work and approaches will filter into understanding and approaches adopted by experts in each country. We have produced a 'Key Messages' report that has been widely disseminated. We have continued to engage with stakeholder organisations and disseminate our findings in response to requests in Malawi and Tanzania. We had several opportunities to provide inputs into national policies and strategies in Malawi. For example, we regularly engaged with the National Technical and Steering Committees on Climate Change in Malawi. In Malawi, UMFULA project has directly influenced national policy and planning documents, by providing climate risk information and raising the profile of climate resilience. The co-production approach ensured UMFULA representation on the Malawi National Planning Commission Core Advisory Panel, which resulted in: The National Resilience Plan (2019) "[having] four pillarsall addressing UMFULA related objectives including investments for resilience, climate information and early warning, water and agriculture resources"; In the National Planning Commission's Long-Term Development Plan 'National Transformation 2063', the UMFULA project "enhanced the climate resilience profiles (for both water and food systems)" ; Malawi's third National Communication to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) on Agriculture Adaptation incorporates risk profiles generated by UMFULA; Malawi's Science Technology and Innovation Policy submitted to the President and Cabinet "incorporates [UMFULA evidence] on climate change science and investments"
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink,Energy,Environment
Impact Types Societal,Economic,Policy & public services

Description On-line training course on Co-Production for African National Meteorological Services
Geographic Reach Africa 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Impact The course aims to improve interaction between climate scientists and stakeholders as well as improving the production of tailored climate services. Now avilable via the WMO Global Campus page. It is under the "Current" (blue) lower tab at the following website https://learningevents.wmo.int/#/.
URL http://walker.ac.uk/about-walker/news-events/learning-to-co-produce-course-goes-live-on-walker-acade...
Description CLimate Adaptation and Resilience In Tropical drYlands (CLARITY). CLARE programme
Amount $8,000,000 (CAD)
Organisation International Development Research Centre 
Sector Public
Country Canada
Start 04/2023 
End 10/2026
Description DRiSL: The Drought Risk finance Science Laboratory
Amount £282,408 (GBP)
Funding ID NE/R014272/1 
Organisation Natural Environment Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2018 
End 06/2019
Description Learning to co-produce
Amount £20,000 (GBP)
Organisation Natural Environment Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 05/2020 
End 03/2021
Description Probabilistic Forecasting of Food Security in Africa
Amount £66,000 (GBP)
Organisation University of Sussex 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2018 
End 06/2020
Title Decision-relevant drought indices: Country and admin level-1 Soil Moisture and drought indices with associated Return Periods 1 for three target countries: 
Description Multiple decision-relevant drought indices: Country and admin level-1 Soil Moisture and drought indices from multiple sources of data with associated Return Periods 1 for three target countries: Zimbabwe, Pakistan and Madagascar 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2019 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact support DRiSL project 
Title Water Resources Satisfaction Index data generated for decision-relevant crop types in Zimbabwe using calibrated and validated Tamsat-Alert system 
Description Water Resources Satisfaction Index data generated for decision-relevant crop types in Zimbabwe using calibrated and validated Tamsat-Alert system 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2019 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Supports DRiSL project