Climate Services for Infrastructure Baseline Assessment Report for the Nile Basin Countries

Submitted by Climate Risk Institute | published 4th Aug 2022 | last updated 14th Nov 2022
Enhancing Climate Services for Infrastructure Investments
limate Services for Infrastructure Baseline Assessment Report for the Nile Basin Countries (2018)

Executive Summary

This resource was submitted by the Climate Risk Institute for use by the CanAdapt Climate Change Adaptation Community of  Practice.

This article is an abridged version of the original text, which can be downloaded from the right-hand column. Please access the original text for more detail, research purposes, full references, or to quote text.

Every year, emerging economies and developing countries invest billions in long-term infrastructure projects. However, their plans often fail to take account of future climate change. This leads to high risks of damage and misguided investments that harbour potentially serious consequences for the economy and society. Although the Global Climate Models (GCMs) don’t seem to agree on the impact of climate change on the precipitation within the Nile Basin, nonetheless, prediction with regards to temperature suggest a trend towards the warming of surface temperature over the region; the impact of which would create extreme weather events like floods and droughts and in some cases, disasters that can lead to destruction of infrastructure especially water related ones.

Known as Climate Services, user-oriented climate information and products (e.g. risk and vulnerability analyses) that enable public and private decision-makers to manage climate risks and opportunities form a major cornerstone of measures to raise the resilience of national infrastructures. Many countries within the Nile Basin region so far lack the institutional, technical and service-related conditions they need to set up and mainstream climate services in their planning procedures and regulations. Amongst the first international initiatives to take up this challenge is the Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS) of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). 

In order to enhance the provision of Climate Services for infrastructure investments, a baseline assessment of available Climate Services is done which are provided by National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHS) in the Nile basin region. This baseline comprises all available and desired Climate Service products for the water sector as well as an assessment of the state of the Climate Service infrastructure regarding the NMHS’s capacities and potential to generate useful and usable climate information products for water-related sectors. The classification of the NMHSs happens according the WMO categories for NMHS (WMO 2012). The baseline shall help to identify current strengths, challenges, opportunities and threats of Climate Service provision of the NMHS of the individual countries and subsequently disclose entry points for the enhancement of effective and user oriented climate information provision. 

Altogether baselines for eight countries were produced based on data collected in interviews, surveys and workshops. These eight countries comprise Burundi, DR Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda. Information from Egypt and Tanzania are not available. Furthermore, users from all participating countries representing various water-related sectors like energy, agriculture, various water infrastructures (dams, irrigation, etc.) and construction were interviewed about their use and demands of climate information for their specific sectoral context. The most important general results of the baselines in the Nile basin region can be summarized as follows: 

  • Strengths: most of the NMHS do meet the requirements of Category 1 (basic functions) and category 2 (essential services); meaning that they can perform the essential functions of: medium-range (synoptic scale) forecasts and warnings establish links with media and DRR communities; provide seasonal climate outlooks and climate monitoring; also provide hydrological data products for design and operation of water supply structures; water level and flow monitoring, short-term flow forecasts (low flows) and flood forecasting. But with engagements and collaborations with regional and international organisations, allow them to access services and products from categories 3 (full range) and 4 (advanced), for example WMO and regional climate outlook forums like GHACOF and thus being able to provide a much improved service. 
  • Main challenges are in general low capacities and available funds of the NMHS in all respects especially regarding technical equipment and infrastructure, man power and knowledge and skills. This general basic infrastructure only allows the operation, maintenance and thus  provision of basic to essential climate information products. Knowhow and capacities are often not sufficient for sophisticated climatological statistics like climate indices and user-specific tailored information products. Furthermore, there is shortage of private sector players in the value chain of climate services apart from those who deal in the manufacture of equipment or support the dissemination of products. Some of the reasons cited are that the policies, regulatory and structural environment in most of the countries restrict participation of other entities which are not NHMS from involvement in climate services especially at the providers’ side. In those cases where the private sector is involved, there are no cooperation agreements that allow for further engagement and collaboration.
  • Beside the challenges, there are various opportunities in Climate Services in the Nile basin region: a wide range of data is available within the region and this includes climatological observation from various sources as well as impact data and socioeconomic information. Furthermore, most of the NHMS within the Nile basin have mandates to carryout research activities, some with fully pledged units. They also do share research responsibility with mainly University and agricultural organizations in their respective countries, part of the research results are then used in operational practice. Highly noted is the collaboration with other national, regional and international organizations such as: WMO, ICPAC, African Centre of Meteorological Application for Development (ACMAD), United National Development Program (UNDP), World Food Program (WFP), World Bank (WB), among many others. Most NHMS have dedicated persons to interact with the public and in some cases, the users come with their needs while in others, the Public Relations Officers (PROs) hold regular meetings, are involved in studies, and complete questionnaires and surveys. Additionally, users from various sectors have a broad awareness of the relevance of climate, climate change and the impacts for their specific contexts. 
  • The potential of the existing opportunities are limited due to various threats: the NHMSs are operating within legal, policy and strategic oriented environments. Their funding varies from national budgets to donor funding and in some incidences, internally generated funds. Thus, with exception of a few, most of the HHMS are still fully embedded in their government structures and not semi-autonomous. The consequences are that although most of these NHMS share data with WMO, they have policies that restrict free and open data sharing. Furthermore, due to missing link to the private sector, additional funding is hampered as well as the provision of a comprehensive portfolio of Climate Services as well as value-added sector specific products within a climate value chain. Beyond that gaps do exist especially with recognition and visibility of services including social-economic benefits of climate services within their governments which hamper the use and appraisal of Climate Services. This is supported by an interaction between user and providers which is mostly based on request and not so much supported by any formal agreements like MOUs or contracts which hampers the understanding and consideration of user needs in the provision and tailoring of climate services