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Training and Capacity Building

This part of CONFER is all about building skills and knowledge, through enhancing capacity, across a wide range of climate information producers and consumers. The purpose is to train people in the region in interpreting and applying climate services in a way that benefits and supports resilience against inter-annual variability.


For CONFER to succeed, we need to think ahead, far beyond 2024 when the project is scheduled to end. This is what capacity building entails – it is a matter of increasing human capacity and building knowledge and skills among people in the region. CONFER is aiming to be a sustainable project, which means that we cannot merely provide stakeholders with climate services and then leave them to it, we also need to provide training in how to use them efficiently and transfer that knowledge between successive generations.

How will we go about doing it?

CONFER is working closely with ICPAC to arrange quality training for people in the region to provide and disseminate climate services. As mentioned, it is crucial for the project´s success that we think beyond 2024 and provide local stakeholders with the knowledge and tools they need to continue to provide useful climate services for people in the region.

One of the first objectives of this work package has been to conduct a user needs analysis across ICPAC, NMHSs and various climate information stakeholders, to assess the requirements for training on topics that include underpinning seasonal science, coproduction, communication, IT/technical and new science developed through CONFER. The results of this analysis are featured in the Capacity Building and Training Plan – a document that sets out where and what these capacity gaps are, as well as a targeted plan on how to address them, through training events, over the CONFER project and beyond.

One forum where we could contribute is through a training school which would take the form of the Climate System Analysis Group (CSAG) “Winter School” which has been held annually since 2009 (with the exception of this year due to the pandemic). This is a 5-day programme where sector specialists who work with water and disaster management, agricultural administrators and planners, health workers etc. meet and are trained in how to use climate services effectively. The course involves hands on group work with specialist facilitation. During the CONFER training school, the participants would learn more about what seasonal forecasting is, what it does and does not say, how to interpret the forecast, and last, but not least, how to apply the forecast to their situation.

The existing Winter School has had mostly positive feedback and seems to be a big success in the region, which makes it ideal as a tool for CONFER to build capacity among the participants in how to apply climate information to assist them in their work. The course has proven to be dynamic, effective, and indeed quite fun.

Furthermore, the Met Office and ICPAC deliver annual “Foundation Seasonal Forecasting” training for NMHS forecasters in the region. One representative from each country learns underpinning seasonal forecasting knowledge and techniques, including the production of the ICPAC forecast for 2-3 weeks, and the representatives are later involved in each of the three annual GHACOFs (Greater Horn of Africa Climate Outlook Forum) to produce the forecast.

Where are we at now?

NORCAP, one of CONFER´s partner organizations, subcontracted BBC Media Action to develop a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on “climate reporting” for journalists at a vernacular radio stations and national broadcast media across the IGAD region. Training contents will be translated in Kiswahili, Arabic, Somali and Amharic which are the main languages. We are working closely with BBC Media Action course writers who have been contracted by BBC Media Action, and we are contributing to the structure of the course to align CONFER project goals before the first version is tested. We have also engaged Code for Africa, a company specialized in data journalism with massive platform, to contribute to the course, especially in ‘data visualization’, and utilize their platform too for better reach.  

Furthermore, we are now reviewing the Capacity Building and Training Plan and actively starting organising next year´s training, including ICPAC training visits to NR and Met Office to learn more about the science behind climate prediction. We will also continue to support ICPAC´s activities, for example by assisting them in the pre-COF workshops, which takes place the week before GHACOF, where NMHSs worok alongside ICPAC to generate the forecast.

Finally, ICPAC and Met Office continue to deliver and refine the above mentioned annual “Foundation Seasonal Forecasting” training for the next cohort of NMHSs in the region.

Who is involved in this research topic?

Stefan Lines (Met Office) – Science Manager (Capacity Building & Training)

Tamara Janes (Met Office) – Science Manager (Capacity Building & Training)

Andrew Coleman (Met Office) – Senior Scientist (Seasonal Research & Training)

Adbuwali Abdi – Training and Capacity Building Expert

Peter Johnston – Capacity Building – user