Abstract 057

Abstract ID: 057

Using a co-production approach to support effective application of S2S forecasts in Africa

Lead Author: Linda Hirons
National Centre for Atmospheric Science, University of Reading, United Kingdom

Keywords: co-production, S2S applications, predictability, African climate services, forecasting testbed

Abstract: Forecasts on sub-seasonal to seasonal (S2S) timescales have huge potential to improve early warning and anticipatory action ahead of high impact events. However, fully realising this potential predictability requires reliable forecasts that are communicated effectively so that they can support appropriate preparedness action. This study reflects on the African SWIFT (Science for Weather Information and Forecasting Techniques) S2S forecasting testbed which brought together researchers, forecast producers and forecast users from a range of African and UK institutions. The testbed used a co-production approach to pilot the provision of real-time bespoke S2S forecast products for applications. The S2S testbed supported decision-makers in a range of sectors and contexts. For example, informing food security decisions and hydropower energy planning in East Africa, supporting agricultural decision-making across West Africa, and, in health applications, increasing the lead-time for potential disease outbreaks.

This study critically reflects on the benefits and challenges of the co-production process within the S2S applications context. Specifically, while having direct access to the real-time S2S data allowed user-guided iterations to products to make them more actionable for their specific context. Some key lessons for effective co-production emerged. 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.