A Model for Scaling-up Climate Services Efforts in Bangladesh
Climate change is a defining issue of our time, and we have been talking a lot about adaptation or sustainable development goals (SDGs). All these climate sensitive sectors require climate information that raises the increasing demand for climate services. On one hand, it is very difficult to know what the future climate will look like, and with the current trend, it is very likely that the year-to-year climate variability will Increase. Hence, we would need to improve adaptation not only for the long-term but also to the current climate. Therefore, we need to produce short-term projections rather than long-term forecasting.
But there has always been a gap between the people providing the climate information, and people needing the climate information. Where on one hand, the user community is confused about which data to trust, on the other hand, the science community does not know in what format the data should be communicated. Another issue is that, in developing countries like Bangladesh, resources put into parallel, and there is a lot of duplication of efforts due to lack of communication which eventually results in misuse of resources.
Here comes the idea of climate services which is to generate information from the best possible science, then translate and transfer them to the beneficiaries efficiently and finally use them for policies and planning. Scaling up climate services requires increased investment, which in turn requires improved understanding of climate risks, climate impacts in specific sectors and climate-resilient strategies, as well as better coordination of generation, translation, communication and use of climate services. To address these issues, International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD), International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI) at Columbia University, International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT), and Bangladesh Meteorological Department (BMD) co-founded the Bangladesh Academy for Climate Services (BACS) in January 2018. This academy is the very first of its kind in Bangladesh, and goes beyond the disconnected, ad-hoc, one-off workshop-based format of project-based activities by prioritizing holistic, high quality and sustainable capacity building to achieve the climate services goal.
So far, two training dialogues and few thematic workshops have been conducted under the BACS umbrella. All of these efforts are targeted to build the capacity of different stakeholders working in climate services so that they are able to identify, analyze and communicate about the climate impacts affecting their decisions. In these platforms, they can discuss the needs for climate information, and processes to improve the integration of climate information into their decision-making process.
MHM Mostafa Rahman, one of the BACS Alumni, has been involved with climate services for the last 24 years. He has worked for rural development, focusing on agriculture and aquaculture extension and natural resource management. According to him, “Adaptation techniques are not new in Bangladesh. Even though, the training helps us to consider weather forecasts in formulating sound decisions for adaptation.” Having this training, he has developed a protocol to introduce Climate Service for Aquaculture and produce a video to inform the climate risk management (CRM) among smallholder fishermen. He shared his knowledge and experience as a motivational speaker in the next BACS training dialogue. His relentless effort in spreading the knowledge of climatic variability has been helping farmers significantly to better adapt to climate change risks and BACS has played a prominent role in that notion.
On the other hand, Dr Md Kamrul Islam’s story reflected the importance of climate services in the government sectors. He is the Senior Scientific Officer at the Development Board and an alumnus of First batch of BACS training. Currently, he is leading a project on ‘Enhancing Capacity in Cotton Varieties Development’, where optimum sowing time is significantly affected by weather conditions. Before the training, they never considered the climatic variability into planning. But afterwards, they started to analyze the seasonal variations and planned the production accordingly, which resulted in higher yield. In contrast, Khandakar Mohammad Rashed Iftekher is the Upazila Agriculture Officer under the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE). He participated in the ‘Insurance Workshop on Data for Climate Risk’ where he shared his experiences and learnt about others challenges and needs in the insurance sector. Considering the importance of integrating climate information in different sectors, he mentioned, “The present status of data on climate risks are not enough and emphasize should be given on the data for various appliances of insurance at the ground level.”
Moreover, Mohammad Abdul Kader works as a Weather Content Specialist at Win Miaki Ltd. and holds 8 years of experience in the field of ICT based weather, agro-met advisory content development and capacity development initiatives of CBOs in agriculture and aquaculture sector. He joined the ENACTS Launch Workshop and mentioned, “The best feature of ENACTS Maproom is the potential to generate weather forecast for several remote places in Bangladesh, even at the absence of weather stations.” Considering the abundant potentials of ENACTS, he wishes to attend further events to learn on climate data modeling and use them in weather index based insurance purposes in future.
Md. Sultan Mohmud, currently working at the WorldFish in Carp-GIP project, is an alumnus from the second BACS Training. The climate forecasting session was found to be the most useful learning to him. it helped him to prepare the yearly work plan for the fish rearing and breeding. He stated, “The regularly e-mail notification by BMD on climate forecast has been a great resource for us. Additionally, ENACTS Maproom will play one of the most beneficial instruments for climate services in Bangladesh.” On the other hand, Md. Mizanur Rahman who is the Training and Extension Coordinator of World Fish-Pranti Aquaculture Ltd., involves conducting training and needs assessment of field facilitator, developing modules on climate smart agriculture and providing technical support. Participating in the training, he mentioned, “I gained a lot of knowledge on weather forecasting in aquaculture, effects of El Nino and La Nina, information collection through mobile phone and crop and species selection considering climate change. Now, I use them in our training courses and collect climate information during cultivation and harvesting of crops. I also disseminate that information to others.”
All of these stories reflect that BACS model enables successful identification of the full spectrum of needs and building capacity strategically across four pillars of climate services and relevant sectors. This model is an effort to initiate similar academies in other countries, and support cross country and south-south collaboration initiatives. All the partners working with BACS are playing a complementary role to contribute more towards knowledge management around the issue of climate services.
Tasfia Tasnim works at ICCCAD. By degree, she is a planner. Her working majors are climate finance, livelihood resilience and natural resource management connected to socio-cultural dynamics.
Farah Anzum is a Research Associate at ICCCAD. She has pursued her education in the field of Environmental Management and Economics. Her field of involvement includes climate finance and services, natural resource management and environmental economics.