Tuesday, March 23, 2021

This article was originally posted on the Science for Humanitarian Emergencies and Resilience (SHEAR) blog, HERE.

What is co-production?

Early warning and early action are vital to strengthening the resilience of people whose lives and livelihoods are directly impacted by climate-related risks.

The need to develop systems and deliver relevant weather and climate information based on a holistic and in-depth understanding of the varying needs of different users has been both a major focus and a major challenge highlighted in disaster risk reduction, humanitarian programming and climate-resilience building.

For weather and climate services to be effective in saving lives and livelihoods and further promoting and protecting hard-won development gains, they need to be relevant to the needs, priorities, and capacities of the stakeholders involved in producing and using them.

However, gaps remain between the production and use of forecast information, meaning that information can be produced which is not fit for purpose, and which excludes the experience and expertise of directly affected people and the institutions which seek to support them, including national, local and regional governmental and non-governmental decision makers.

Putting knowledge into practice

Learning to Co-Produce (L2CP) is a SHEAR initiative which has been developing an online training to strengthen meteorologists’ capacities to develop weather and climate information that can better support the needs of decision makers. The training is oriented towards early career producers of forecast information and aims to identify the key steps, skills and processes for producing user-centred weather and climate information.

The L2CP training has been co-developed with a range of meteorological training and climate research institutions across East and West Africa and the UK. Co-ordinated by King’s College London, partners include:

  • University of Nairobi
  • Agence Nationale de l’Aviation Civile et de la Météorologie (ANACIM)
  • Université Cheikh Anta Diop (UCAD)
  • Kenya Meteorological Department (KMD)’s Institute of Meteorological Training and Research (IMTR)
  • Uganda National Meteorological Agency (UNMA)
  • IGAD Climate Predictions and Application Centre (ICPAC)
  • Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS)
  • Walker Academy at the University of Reading
  • universities of Bristol, Oxford and Sussex
  • UK Met Office
  • UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (UKCEH)

‘Before I did not know that the public are also important in climate issues, in my research I’ll be engaging the public to get more about climate and how it affects them.’

— L2CP learner

Designed to strengthen skills in engaging with forecast users, the course draws on experience of developing weather and climate services for different countries and contexts across West and East Africa. Modules explore topics including the principles of co-production, key climate concepts and conveying these to non-technical decision makers, understanding decision-making contexts, and monitoring and evaluation. Combining theory and practice, the course is designed to support remote and flexible learning.

With the aim of supporting its integration within meteorological training curriculum, the course was piloted between October and December 2020 with 105 students and staff from across 11 institutions. Most learners assessed that the course had considerably strengthened both their understanding of what is entailed in the process of co-producing weather and climate services as well as their confidence to engage in this process.

‘The course was truly a wonderful experience. It has helped me appreciate not just the role of co-production, but also boosted my own confidence as a meteorologist. It has endowed what I do with meaning, by showing me that there is a way to make the work we do more worthwhile to the development endeavours… Being a meteorologist is now endowed with greater meaning, direction and purpose.’

— L2CP learner

What next?

L2CP has undertaken an evaluation of the course’s initial piloting, seeking students’ and partnering institutions’ feedback on how to further strengthen the course. Review has highlighted the need to:

  • provide more time to complete assignments
  • seek additional support to enable translation of the course into French
  • bring in more practical examples and demonstrations of key concepts
  • increase opportunities for interaction among students and with course tutors

L2CP reflects and implements SHEAR’s goal of working with stakeholders to co-produce demand-led, people-centred science and solutions. Following this pilot, three institutional partners — the Kenya Meteorological Department, the University of Nairobi and the Ugandan National Meteorological Training School — have proposed using elements of L2CP in their future training. The L2CP team is also exploring potential to work with institutions providing climate training in Senegal and the African SWIFT project, as well as sharing the resource via the WMO Global Campus. The team have also been invited to present the course at an ICPAC (IGAD Climate Prediction and Application Centre) learning event in March 2021.

‘With the current changes in weather and climate, co-production is definitely the only way to go. Weather and climate impacts all sectors of the economy and therefore, to reduce the impacts, we need to start taking in this weather and climate information. However we can only take it in if it is useful to us (tailored to our needs) which necessitates us to engage in the production of this weather and climate information for easy understanding and interpretation of the forecasts.’

— L2CP learner

By focusing on bridging the gaps between research and practice, this course is working to strengthen effective preparedness for increasing climate extremes, variability and change.