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CR 40:133-146 (2009)  -  DOI:

Climate change scenarios and the development of adaptation strategies in Africa: challenges and opportunities

Gina Ziervogel1,2,*, Fernanda Zermoglio1

1Stockholm Environment Institute, Oxford Office, 266 Banbury Road, Suite 193, Oxford OX2 7DL, UK
2Present address: Department of Environment and Geographical Science, University of Cape Town, Private Bag X3, Rondebosch 7700, South Africa

ABSTRACT: Climate change is expected to intensify existing problems and create new combinations of risks, particularly in Africa, where there is widespread poverty and dependence on the natural environment. Accordingly, there is a growing need for proactive adaptation to climate change risks. In order to achieve this, the requisite competence needs to be developed on the use and interpretation of climate information to support informed decisions. The present paper assesses the extent to which climate change scenarios are currently used in developing adaptation strategies within the agricultural development sector, with a focus on Africa. The data, based on interviews with practitioners and donors working in the climate change field in Africa, suggest that although annual climate information (such as seasonal climate forecasts) is used to a certain extent to inform and support some decisions, climate change scenarios are rarely used at present in agricultural development. However, respondents suggest a number of ways to improve the application of climate change science in these endeavors; these include strengthening technical skills for downscaling climate models, as well as using scenario outputs to develop and prioritize robust locally relevant adaptation strategies to provide examples of ‘good’ adaptation practice. Improved understanding, packaging, and communication of climate scenarios are required between scientists, practitioners, policymakers and civil society, both within areas in the global south as well as between the global south and north. In addition, we argue that a paradigmatic shift is required from supply-driven activities to a user-focused approach that addresses decision makers’ needs for climate change data. Such a shift would focus on generating the information required to provide actionable suggestions to formulate viable adaptation policies and reduce the negative consequences of climate change, particularly for Africa’s most vulnerable groups.

KEY WORDS: Adaptation · Climate change science · Climate change data · Africa · Agriculture

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Cite this article as: Ziervogel G, Zermoglio F (2009) Climate change scenarios and the development of adaptation strategies in Africa: challenges and opportunities. Clim Res 40:133-146.

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