Quality climate data at the click of a button
To increase the availability and accessibility of quality climate data in Mali an initiative titled ‘Enhancing National Climate Services’ (ENACTS) was launched recently. For the purpose, a workshop was held to introduce stakeholders to Mali weather station’s new data and web interface called the Mali Meteo Data Library and solicit their feedback.
The ENACTS initiative seeks to address the problem of declining quality of station climate data. A security crisis in the northern half of the country adversely affected climate data availability, particularly since 2012, which was further compounded by the low density of the weather station networks.
The initiative focuses on the creation of reliable climate information suitable for national and local decision making. Its main objective is to improve simultaneously the availability, access and use of climate information. The crux of the approach lies in collaborative work with the National Meteorological Hydrological Services (NMHS), blending national observations with satellite and other proxy data to improve the quality of their database and extend wall-to-wall coverage on a 5km grid.
Through ENACTS, products from climate data (rainfall and temperature) can freely be accessed via Mali Meteo’s Datatheque (French for Data Library) available at www.malimeteo.net. Users only need to specify the geographical coordinates of a target location to access diverse map room products pertaining to local climate (analysis, monitoring and forecast) and malaria historical analyses. This tool also provides a unique opportunity for stakeholders’ design of online custom analyses based on specific sectorial needs, using the available statistical tools. It is a flexible tool that still has room for more product development and improvement.
It is expected that the ENACTS initiative implementation in Mali will help achieve the following key objectives of the project Capacitating African Smallholder with Climate Services and Insurance Development (CASCAID):
- Building the capacity of NMHS to provide timely and reliable climate information
- Easing the implementation of the Participatory Integrated Climate Services for Agriculture (PICSA) approach in Mali – a sustainable approach, which provides smallholder famers with climatic information they don’t have access to, to manage climate related risks and improve resilience
- Generating merged data which may be used for improved food security sub-national outlooks – a novel utilization the CASCAID project will test by calibrating the CCAFS Regional Agricultural Forecasting Tool (CRAFT) for a 100,000 km2 area covered by the Compagnie malienne pour le développement des textile (CMDT) cotton parastatal in southern Mali.
Mr Djibril A Maiga, Director General, Mali Meteo, said that there is need for Mali Meteo to work hand in hand with stakeholders and research institutions to provide tailored products for better decision making. His views were endorsed by Dr Tufa Dinku, research scientist at International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI) and mastermind of ENACTS and Dr Ramadjita Tabo, Research Program Director, West and Central Africa and Country Representative Mali, ICRISAT.
However, relevant and salient new information products cannot be developed without the involvement of a variety of actors alongside the NMHS: Sectorial government divisions, NGOs, Civil Society Organizations, research institutions, the private sector including telecom and agro-businesses all have a particular role to play in the development of a lively information value chain. “Mali Meteo needs to explore ways and develop investment strategies that could sustain such vision of new climate services product development, including the development of win-win private-public partnerships (PPP),” said Dr Robert Zougmore, Regional Program Leader – Africa region, Climate Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS).
From all the challenging questions thrown in by a lively attendance, one Mr Yehia Abou from Direction Nationale de la Planification du Développement (DNPD) asked: “How will smallholders concretely benefit from these tools at the local level, and what are the mechanisms Mali Meteo intends to rely on to disseminate information to the last mile?” Clearly, while favorable climatic conditions is important for rainfed agriculture, a number of prerequisites need to be in place, most notably nutrient availability and accessibility, at the right time, and at the right price. “Until such conditions are met, smallholders fully realizing the value of quality climate information will remain a challenge. This shows the importance of mainstreaming the use of climate information, such as that provided by ENACTS, inside a larger ecosystem of farm services – rather than focusing on climate services as a standalone goal,” said Dr Pierre Sibiry Traore, Head-GIS, Bamako, ICRISAT and CASCAID project leader.
The workshop held on 3 November, was jointly organized by the CCAFS-funded CASCAID project led by ICRISAT and World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded project Building Mali Meteo’s Capacity to Deliver Improved Climate Services, led by IRI.
As a next step, ICRISAT, IRI and Mali Meteo will organize in December a workshop for national members of the GTPA (Groupe de Travail Pluridisciplinaire d’Assistance agro-meteorologique) and USAID project partners willing to discover and design customized sectorial information products out of Mali Meteo’s new ENACTS online tool.