Report of the 58 Greater Horn of Africa Climate Outlook Forum
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the IGAD Climate Prediction and Applications Centre (ICPAC) held its GHACOF58 virtually using Airmeet platform. The GHACOF58 issued the June to September 2021 rainfall forecasts for the region, including its potential impacts and mitigation measures.
It also reviewed the March-May 2020 seasonal rainfall performance, i.e., rainfall onset, amounts, distribution, and impacts vis-a-vis the previous seasonal outlook.
The forum was held within the framework of the IGAD regional strategy for mainstreaming climate information into key socio-economic sectors for resilience and sustainable development. It brought together representatives from National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs), sector focal points, regional partners, and global climate centers to ensure consistency in the access to and the interpretation of seasonal rainfall and temperature prediction in the Greater Horn of Africa (GHA) and the implications for critical sectors. Others were from socio-economic sectors such as agriculture and food security, health, water resources, energy, disaster risk reduction, civil society, conflict early warning response, environment and forestry, communication, and media, among other users of climate information and prediction products. The forum provided a structured means for users, researchers, and climate services providers to interact at the regional level to ensure that user needs for the seasonal prediction are met.
The methodology adopted to achieve its objective included power point presentations shared through Airmeet and plenary dialogue. The forum formulated mitigation and response strategies as a consequence of the June–September 2021 seasonal outlook.
After many hours of deliberations, the Director of ICPAC read the forum’s statement to the participants. The consolidated objective climate forecast generally indicated a relatively higher chance of wetter conditions over much of the northern Tanzania and along a north-south band centered on the Uganda, Kenya, South Sudan, and Ethiopia borders and including parts of Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi. In these regions, probabilities for the wetter than average category range from 35-50%. In contrast, probabilities for drier than average conditions are enhanced over parts of eastern Ethiopia and reach 45% at few locations.
All the sectorial sessions were held a day before the main event. Historically, GHACOFs sessions had two breakout sessions that reviewed lessons learned from the preceding forum as well as formulated implications of the coming climate outlook and response strategies. In line with restructuring GHACOF events based on stakeholders’ recommendations and survey outcome, more time for sector discussions were innovatively created while at the same time minimizing the long sector activities, particularly for online GHACOF session. The sectors involved were Agriculture and Food Security, Disaster Risk Management (DRM), Water Resources Management and Energy, Livestock, Health, Environment and Forestry, Media, and the Conflict Early Warning and Response Mechanism (CEWARN). Climate Change experts also had a parallel workshop on day one but later joined the various sectors on the second day.
Despite the success, there were technological challenges that affected the online forum. Structurally, internet services generally are not widespread and stable in many parts of the region, which can significantly affect the quality and rate of participation in virtual forums.