Using co-production to improve the appropriate use of sub-seasonal forecasts in Africa

Sept. 3, 2021

Forecasts on sub-seasonal to seasonal (S2S) timescales have huge potential to aid preparedness and disaster risk reduction planning decisions in a variety of sectors. However, realizing this potential depends on the provision of reliable information that can be appropriately applied in the decision-making context of users. This study describes the African SWIFT (Science for Weather Information and Forecasting Techniques) forecasting testbed which brings together researchers, forecast producers and users from a range of African and UK institutions. The forecasting testbed is piloting the provision of real-time, bespoke S2S forecast products to decision-makers in Africa. Drawing on data from the kick-off workshop and initial case study examples, this study critically reflects on the co-production process. Specifically, having direct access to real-time data has allowed user-guided iterations to the spatial scale, timing, visualization and communication of forecast products to make them more actionable for users. Some key lessons for effective co-production are emerging. First, it is critical to ensure there is sufficient resource to support co-production, especially in the early co-exploration of needs. Second, all the groups in the co-production process require capacity building to effectively work in new knowledge systems. Third, evaluation should be ongoing and combine meteorological verification with decision-makers feedback. Ensuring the sustainability of project-initiated services within the testbed hinges on integrating the knowledge-exchanges between individuals in the co-production process into shaping sustainable pathways for improved operational S2S forecasting within African institutions. 

* Corresponding author. E-mail address: (L. Hirons). Contents lists available at ScienceDirect Climate Services journal homepage: Received 24 November 2020; Received in revised form 2 August 2021; Accepted 5 August 2021