Novel Approaches to Research and Engagement

FCFA used a range of novel approaches to engage with a diverse set of stakeholders (researchers, decision-makers, communities) to collectively identify useful and usable climate information and adaptation solutions, and communicate complex climate change risks and uncertainties in order to assist in influencing climate-resilient policy and planning. Various climate-related tools have also been developed to support this uptake of climate information.

Approaches to co-producing climate knowledge and communicating climate risks and uncertainty

Participatory approaches were used by FCFA to engage with different sets of stakeholders in order to work together to establish the most useful and usable climate information and adaptation solutions. These kinds of participatory approaches were able to bring together stakeholders to co-produce knowledge that was more relevant to the needs of the user. FCFA has also explored novel ways to effectively communicate complex climate change risks and uncertainties with a range of stakeholders. A manual for co-production in African weather and climate services with the WISER programme and a guide on approaches for communicating climate uncertainty has been developed.

Participatory Impact Pathways Analysis

An adapted PIPA was used by AMMA-2050 as an overall framework for project engagement and to co-explore different adaptive pathways. It recognised the need to: (i) listen to people’s different framings of the risks that climate change poses; (ii) encourage different people’s participation in decision-making; and (iii) co-develop pathways to achieve ‘climate-proofed’ development.

Coproduced climate metrics

AMMA-2050 , UMFULA and HyCRISTAL brought together respective expertise from across disciplines and institutions to identify climate metrics important in enabling decision-making informed by climate-related risks. Across project partners and together with decision-makers, researchers reviewed climate metrics for the region including; annual rainfall, change in extreme precipitation days, change in frequency of dry spells and monthly temperature trends. Researchers from partner institutions within West Africa were upskilled in python training to co-produce climate metrics in-country and support the development of the climate atlas for West Africa.

In East Africa, climate metrics were co-produced in the Climate Information for Resilient Tea Production project (CI4Tea) by engaging diverse stakeholders from the tea sector including smallholder farmers, large tea estates and the Tea Research Institutes. Iterative engagements with tea sector stakeholders helped tailor climate information to their needs and incorporate their feedback to develop usable climate information within the tea sectors of Malawi and Kenya and to identify relevant adaptation options to sustain tea production in the short and long term.

Participatory Scenario Planning

UMFULA used participatory scenario planning in Malawi as a multi-stakeholder process to discuss the three scenarios of tercile seasonal forecasts and respective potential risks, opportunities and impacts. It was found to be a way of co-producing climate information which is useful and usable while also being credible, legitimate and salient. Participants gained knowledge of the forecast, skills in interpreting early warning information, awareness of their own capacities and vulnerabilities and ways of taking adaptive decisions in line with the forecast. With evidence suggesting that farmers in Malawi were able to adopt actions based on the co-produced information provided through the process.

In AMMA-2050, Participatory Modelling combined with a scenario exercise, the Plateau Game , undertaken with peanut growers, allowed decision-makers and agricultural professionals to review and input knowledge into the project’s bio-economic modeling of farming systems in the Peanut Basin in Senegal. In the Plateau Game, each plateau - or board - represents farmers' fields and farmers choose their activities and allocate resources. Their crop output depends not only on resource use but also on the “climate card” that depicts rainfall distribution, with climate cards, as well as the impact on yields of both climate and farmers’ decisions, designed to reflect climate information from CMIP5 and the results of including this within bio-economic modelling. These were used to explore the influence of changes in crop varieties and farming systems such as an intensification of agriculture to livestock breeding and interventions such as insurance. The insights allowed decision-makers to explore different adaptive policies and pathways in the context of a changing climate.

To communicate a range of possible future outcomes, FRACTAL and HyCRISTAL developed Climate Risk Narratives . Climate risk narratives are stories describing a subset of plausible – yet certainly not definitive – futures within the spread of climate projections, intertwined with local context, impacts and vulnerabilities. In FRACTAL, Climate Risk Narratives were developed for 7 southern African cities as a way for participants to conceptualise these different futures for their cities and consider potential climate risks. This approach helped to progress the conversation and enhance understanding about climate change across a variety of stakeholders.

With a growing understanding of potential climate change risks, more specific climate change information needs could be identified for decision-making at the city scale. In HyCRISTAL, key findings were consolidated into Climate Risk Narratives for urban and rural areas in East Africa. These narratives were developed into briefs and infographics, which were leveraged during engagements with decision-makers and planners in the region. HyCRISTAL’s Future Climate Current Policy (FCCP) Framework could then use these narratives to link possible long term impacts to the actions that are required in the present to address them.

Climate Information Distillation

FRACTAL’s Climate Information Distillation framework was developed as a humble science approach allowing for open interrogation of problem framing and assumptions, building trust, agreeing on common values and priorities, integrating a diversity of experience, evidence, and expertise, and collaboratively managing risk and uncertainty. Within FRACTAL’s cities, distillation processes occurred at different depths. These processes were guided by a framework that has been iteratively developed by the FRACTAL team and supports interrogation of the question or problem framing. The framework considers the sources, stakeholders, audience, methodologies, decisions, transparency, and whether there are uncertainties or contradictions. It also considers how the process is communicated beyond the project.

In Senegal, AMMA-2050 used theatre forum as an interactive way to bring farmers, decision makers and scientists together to explore climate risks and how decisions by different actors can lead to unexpected consequences. Theatre forum was not only able to communicate complex climate risks, but initiated conversations about local perspectives and needs in the process of climate adaptation in Senegal.

To further support learning within cities, FRACTAL used Embedded Researchers who acted as bridges between the research and decision-making spaces. Embedded Researchers were researchers from local universities who were seconded within local city councils (or in some cases officials from local councils seconded to work within local universities). Along with the Principal Investigators in FRACTAL cities, the Embedded Researchers drove the in-city research and organised regular dialogues and learning labs within the cities of Durban, Harare, Lusaka, Maputo and Windhoek. In many cases, the Embedded Researchers identified opportunities for FRACTAL activities and research to influence city planning processes.

As part of HyCRISTAL’s rural pilot project, local farmers in the Mukono district of Uganda were trained in the use of video to create a dialogue with other farmers and local government. Traditionally, farmers in Uganda have relied on government or private extension officers for access to climate change information. This means farmers internalise climate messaging from state or private entities and do not get the opportunity to participate in knowledge production processes. Through training local climate change champions in visual storytelling, researchers from HyCRISTAL aimed to use basic filmmaking as a way to shift traditional one-way knowledge exchange within farming communities in Mukono. The visual storytelling aims to address the mismatch between the information provided to farmers and the information needed by farmers. By initiating a dialogue around the impacts of climate change on agriculture with local government officials, the farmers were able to secure increased agriculture extension funding for that financial year. HyCRISTAL also used video to distil results from community and policy consultations to tell the Story of a Flood . The video is designed to communicate the possibility of action on the part of individuals and communities in the face of climate change and it communicates solutions in clear, non-technical language.

In order to address the gap in locally tailored information in Malawi and Tanzania , UMFULA produced climate briefs for each country. These were produced in consultation with the Meteorological agencies of each country, to serve as a straightforward introduction to the sources, results and uncertainties associated with widely available climate model projections for both countries. This was in response to demand from stakeholders for entry level information about what was currently available in order to decide on next steps regarding their use for decision-making. In addition, UMFULA prepared two introductory briefs in response to questions about the range of climate information sources: one on Climate models: what they show us and how they can be used in planning and one on How to understand and interpret global climate model results .

In Lusaka, Zambia, water was identified by learning lab participants as a ‘burning issue’ related to development and climate change within the city. Together with FRACTAL researchers, participants from the learning lab co-produced four briefs related to flooding , groundwater , water supply and water quality . These briefs have been used to inform planning and decision-making within the city, and leverage national level policy.


climate-related tools

18 Tools and Training

21 Published Articles

10 Guides, Handbooks and Reports

16 Briefs

6 Datasets and Models


learning events / engagements

Fostering collective learning spaces between scientists, decision makers and other stakeholders

Collective learning was an important aspect in many of the FCFA pilot projects. Shared learning events provided a space for collaboration and networking between scientists, decision-makers and other stakeholders. This was not only important for generating useful information but was vital for improving the uptake of information.

Annual Meetings

Each research team of FCFA held annual research team meetings to provide the space for learning, interrogating work plans, deciding on and assigning new research and engagement activities, fostering intra-consortia collaboration and building an understanding of each workstream. Another significant element of the annual meetings was engagements with local partners.

Café scientifique

In AMMA-2050, café scientifique was used as a platform for researchers and decision-makers to discuss a specific decision-making tool or research output to gauge its usefulness. Small-group discussion provided a basis from which participants identified the researcher capacities, policy-maker technical support and resources required to enable strengthened science policy-practice engagement.

Mid-term conference

In 2017, more than 100 participants attended the FCFA mid-term conference . The overarching goal was to facilitate cross-consortia learning on scientific progress aimed to provide opportunities for the FCFA research community to deepen collaboration, networking and learning. The conference led to several important cross research team collaborations, including a few programme-wide Synthesis Products and initiatives for joint funding proposals.

Learning Labs

Learning Labs , implemented by FRACTAL, brought together a range of actors to co-explore burning issues within their cities and co-create adaptation options. Learning Labs were used in the cities of Windhoek, Lusaka and Maputo as a means to generate transdisciplinary science that was needed in the contexts of each city. Through engagements in Learning Labs, Climate Risk Narratives were generated to guide discussions around climate risks within the cities. High level breakfasts were also held within these cities to share insights from Learning Labs with decision-makers and provide the opportunity for them to guide learning lab activities.

Collaborative learning fora

UMFULA hosted collaborative learning fora where researchers and stakeholders had the space to brainstorm emerging ideas and co-explore climate modelling outcomes for the project. For example, to support development and planning around water-use allocations within the Shire River Basin in Malawi, UMFULA co-produced an open source Water Evaluation and Planning (WEAP) model with the government and other stakeholders in the agriculture, energy and environment sectors. Collaborative discussions were critical within the collective learning process to share progress and make refinements so that the WEAP model could address stakeholder needs and enable discussions around uncertainty within the model and the climate projections used.

Joint workshops and forums with external programs

Research teams also participated in joint forums and workshops with local organisations to share research outputs and learn from existing projects and organisations. For example, AMMA-2050 co-hosted joint workshops with West African Science Service Centre on Climate Change and Adapted Land Use (WASCAL) and the Building Resilience and Adaptation to Climate Extremes and Disasters (BRACED) Zaman Lebidi project. In HyCRISTAL, the research team contributed to the introduction of climate change information sharing into the Greater Horn of Africa Climate Outlook Forum (GHACOF) .

Delivering climate-related tools to support decision-making

To support the uptake and use of climate information, FCFA developed a range of tools tailored towards the needs of users. These tools assisted in providing context-specific climate information for planning and decision-making processes to consider climate risks. Training stakeholders in the use of these tools empowered them to account for climate risks and impacts in planning, while strengthening in-country partnering institutions supported sustainable national capacities to continue and develop these tailored services.

Flood risk maps and Intensity-Duration-Frequency (IDF) curves

In order to support flood resilience within Ouagadougou, AMMA-2050 developed flood risk maps and Intensity-Duration-Frequency (IDF) curves for the city. Detailed flood modelling, as well as IDF curves representing the return period for intense rainfall, improved decision-makers’ understanding of current and future flood risks within the city and increased demand for tailored climate information, with decision-makers appreciating how this can strengthen understanding of climate-related risks within specific infrastructural investments.

Early warning tool linking disease outbreaks and weather conditions

In FRACTAL, an early warning tool was developed to predict disease outbreaks based on weather conditions in the city of Maputo. The interactive tool uses the weather forecast to estimate the risk of outbreaks of malaria, cholera, and other vector- and water-borne diseases in Maputo. This timely information on where and when outbreaks will likely happen can help inform decision-makers to better respond, prevent and contain outbreaks. The tool is currently being tested to scale up to the National level.

Climate risk screening tool

A climate risk screening tool informed by climate-smart agriculture information, was co-produced to support Rwanda’s Green Fund (FONERWA) project appraisal process. The tool collates crop and livestock information with climate risks to flag and inform new projects. Co-production engagements with project developers and FONERWA specialists were used to explore the type of information needed to promote the inclusion of climate risks in project design.

Health Hazard Mapping for urban WASH

Health Hazard Mapping was developed by HyCRISTAL for Kampala and Kisumu, to help the cities plan for health risks associated with urban water, sanitation and hygiene systems during flood events. Combining new flood models with sanitation, infrastructure and socio-economic maps, HyCRISTAL has developed a geospatial health hazard model to examine the health impacts of flooding in the city. This model allows various climate scenarios and infrastructure interventions to be explored, showing the impacts they will have on likely flood extents and depths, and health outcomes. The process of developing the model has created opportunities for discussions between a range of stakeholders including advocates for informal communities on the impacts of flooding in East Africa.

Online agriculture climate tool

In order to support adaptation in the agricultural sector of Senegal, the AMMA-2050 team contributed to the development of a geo-portal (CLIMAP) which provides insights into the future climate and potential crop losses in the country. The portal provides users with projections for rainfall, temperature and different crops under three different climate scenarios. This is intended to assist with (sub-national) regional adaptation planning, outreach, lobbying, strategic and operational planning, and research. The tool has been used by the Senegal Met service (ANACIM) in a support project for Senegal’s National Adaptation plan.

CLIMAP tool for crops in Senegal

Future-climate, current-policy framework

HyCRISTAL developed the future-climate, current-policy (FCCP) framework as a way to support dialogue between climate scientists and sectoral policy makers. The FCCP bridges the mismatch between the timescales of climate change and policy making. FCCP is based on plausible medium-term future climate scenarios, linked 'backwards' to identify short-term 'no regrets' actions. The approach was designed by HyCRISTAL researchers and collaborators in East Africa and tested in national and regional fora. Initial trials of the FCCP Framework has proved it to be popular and effective as a way of linking climate science with policy. Its use shows promise as a way of initiating discussions that can enable long-term climate change information to feed effectively into the policy and planning process.

Integrated Database for African Policy makers (IDAPS)

In the HyCRISTAL rural pilot project, a Household Economic Approach (HEA) and Individual Household Method (IHM) were used to gather socio-economic data from local communities to form an evidence base for adaptation. Data from these surveys were integrated with data on climate, crops, fisheries and hydrology in order to produce an online resource called the Integrated Database for African Policy Makers (IDAPS). IDAPS is a tool that will help decision-makers understand how communities are impacted by climate change and plan the most appropriate response.

Online tool for Rufiji River Basin

Water Evaluation and Planning Model (WEAP)

To support decision making under uncertain futures, UMFULA co-produced a Water Evaluation and Planning model (WEAP) for the Shire River Basin in Malawi and provided an evidence base for balancing trade-offs in the Rufiji River Basin in Tanzania. This provided both an approach and a tool for decision-makers to take fluctuations in lake levels and river flows into account, and make robust decisions under a range of possible climate scenarios. In FRACTAL, engagements around climate change and water in Lusaka were further explored through the development of Water Evaluation and Planning (WEAP) systems. These were developed with stakeholders in a bottom-up manner to assess how climate change in Zambia might affect future changes in water supply and hydropower generation on the Kafue River.

Supporting Early Career Researchers (ECRs) to produce relevant and usable climate information

One of the key long-term opportunities to improve climate resilience is investment in building the capacity of researchers. Recognising this need, FCFA aimed to develop greater capacity among ECRs to deliver fundamental and applied research while promoting multidisciplinary, international collaboration. Three capacity development initiatives underpinned the FCFA approach to build ECR capacity: travel grants, research grants and bespoke workshops.

Travel grants - the Mobility Fund

Within FCFA, ring-fenced travel grants, administered through a central ‘Mobility Fund’ for Early Career Researchers (ECRs), enabled the achievement of several capacity development objectives. ECRs were able to further substantial collaboration and networking as travel grants were used to: attend conferences, workshops, and annual FCFA meetings; pursue FCFA and independent training; and support research exchanges. Most ECRs’ feedback also highlighted the development of interdisciplinary or trans-disciplinary research competencies as a key outcome from Mobility Fund support. For some ECRs travel grants also provided access to infrastructure, data and computing capacity.

Research grants - the Innovation fund

Within FCFA, short term research grants (lasting no more than 18 months) were issued under an ‘Innovation Fund’ . These small research grants strengthened and extended the research network by increasing the involvement of ECRs. Research grants provided ECRs with access to world-leading supervisor support within a collaborative, international research programme. ECRs often benefited from supervision or mentoring from FCFA senior researchers across two or more institutions and disciplines. Several African ECRs receiving these funds were able to access world-leading supercomputer infrastructure and new datasets through European and UK partners in FCFA.

“Why this training? It’s really important – it’s technology transfer in action. Of course, in our country we are learning things, but when you take part in this kind of workshop, you meet people who can teach you about further computational tools, which are very important for us… when I am back, I need to start teaching Python to the Master’s students,”

FCFA ECR reflects on the advantage of attending the climate modelling workshop at University of Leeds in December 2016.

Bespoke, problem-focused workshops

Hosting repeated, staggered training or workshop sessions (in-person or virtual) that focused on a particular skill or application of tools related to climate research helped to build ECRs’ capacity over a longer period of time and in a more coherent manner. Climate modelling and computer coding (Python) workshops were held for African ECRs in HyCRISTAL and AMMA-2050. The HyCRISTAL collaboration enabled ECRs to develop their coding skills by exploring the new CP4-Africa dataset developed by the IMPALA research team, enabling ‘spin-off’ research from core FCFA investments. Research fellows part of the LaunchPAD project attended a workshop that focussed on climate model evaluation and developing tools that can be automated across climate models. This will make it easier and quicker for other scientists and model developers to find out how new models represent Africa. Feedback from ECRs indicated the immense need for such problem-focused and bespoke training to apply these tools to climate science-related questions. The workshops also served to highlight further needs for training whilst enabling beneficiaries to assist their peers at home institutions.


Early Career Researchers (74 African and 36 women) from 20 different countries received FCFA capacity development support.


individual travel grants issued through the Mobility Fund across the 5 research consortia to support 72 ECRs


research projects that have been funded through the Innovation Fund involving 27 ECRs.