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Tools to help vulnerable communities

  • Published at 10:56 pm July 18th, 2019
COURTESY
COURTESY

The ENACTS initiative launches in Bangladesh

The Bangladesh Meteorological Department (BMD) and the International Research Institute for Climate and Society have launched a new data service that provides national users short-term climate and weather forecast information for decision-making.

The Enhancing National Climate Services (ENACTS) initiative helps countries overcome significant gaps in their historical climate records by an innovative combination of satellite observations and local ground measurements. Since 2011, ENACTS has been successfully implemented in more than a dozen African countries. Bangladesh is the first country outside of Africa to implement the service -- an effort made possible by the ACToday Columbia World Project. ACToday applies climate research and tools to support improved food security and nutrition in Bangladesh and five other countries.

Bangladesh is one of the most rapidly developing countries in the world today, and also one of the most vulnerable to climate change and climate variability. Although the government is largely invested in addressing the long-term impacts of climate change, a gap in understanding and sharing remains between BMD and other climate service providers and user groups who need such information to build a more resilient Bangladesh. 

To help close this gap, the ACToday project has engaged in extensive consultations with close to 100 international, national, and local institutions operating in Bangladesh Since 2017.

“During initial consultations with stakeholders, we asked them to identify the most pressing needs for climate services in the country,” said IRI’s Melody Braun, who leads the ACToday team in Bangladesh. Braun said the launch workshop helped ascertain how the newly-implemented ENACTS data can be tailored to stakeholder needs and integrated into adaptation-related activities across the country.

In addition to BMD and IRI, the event was co-chaired by the International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD) and the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre.

Workshop participants included experts from WorldFish, Oxfam, the Institute of Water Modeling, the Centre for Natural Resource Studies, and Bangladesh’s Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE).

These participants were introduced to BMD’s existing suite of climate services and products, along with a walk-through of how to access the new ENACTS-powered climate data sets and visualization tools -- known as maprooms -- within the IRI Data Library. The maprooms include current and historical data, as well as forecasts of regional temperature and rainfall across Bangladesh.

The organizers collected valuable feedback from participants who worked in aquaculture, agriculture, insurance, and other sectors.

“We really liked that the maprooms provide coverage over all of Bangladesh, downscaled regional climate data, and also open access of data which will benefit a diverse range of users,” said Md Emdad Hossain, Project Leader, CCAFS, Climate Smart Project at WorldFish. “There are many ways the temperature and rainfall information from the maprooms can be helpful to WorldFish, and for aquaculture and fisheries activities as well.”

Before the workshop ended, participants had identified a number of ways the new maprooms could be expanded. Representatives from aquaculture asked for integration of other climate parameters such as sea-surface temperatures, for example, and members of the insurance sectors requested that wind speed data be included.

“We have been able to successfully partner with Columbia University and the ENACTS initiative to provide accessible and robust climate data to the public, said Shamsuddin Ahmed, director of BMD. “The feedback from this workshop is useful in understanding the needs of stakeholders, and we hope to continue to improve our products to better service end users of climate information.”

The lively group discussions that followed the presentations made it clear to Braun that the stakeholders were very interested in the new products and how they could be integrated into decision-making.

“ACToday will build on this momentum, continuing to work with partners in Bangladesh to further incorporate climate services into national food security planning. We hope these tools can help vulnerable communities better adapt to the short-term climate impacts that threaten food security and nutrition.” 

Nabilah Islam is a graduate student of the Master of Arts in Climate and Society program at Columbia University and a visiting researcher at ICCCAD. 

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