Improving Preparedness to Agro-Climatic Extremes in Malawi (IPACE-Malawi)

Institute

  • University of Leeds

Background

The work is centred around a participatory process of identifying agro-climatic indices that describe critical weather events (such as two-week dry spells after planting) based on recent experiences of drought and floods in Malawi. The skill of existing short-term to seasonal-scale tools in accurately forecasting these events at appropriate resolutions will be tested, and on the basis of this understanding of forecasting capabilities and uncertainty, climate services for farmers and responding communities (e.g. humanitarian relief organisations) will be co-developed.

Aims

IPACE-Malawi will investigate the impacts of extreme weather events on agricultural systems and contribute to improving the forecasting and delivery of agriculture-specific weather information to improve preparedness of farmers and humanitarian and disaster response organisations. Through a stakeholder-led process, the project will address some of the gaps in weather forecasting, information and preparedness that compound the vulnerability of small-scale farmers and rural communities in Malawi.

Specifically, IPACE-Malawi aims to:

  • identify critical agro-climatic drought and flood indicators in three districts of central and southern Malawi
  • test the skill of short-term to seasonal forecast tools in simulating these indicators
  • co-design agricultural climate services based on these indicators/forecast tools

Intrinsic to the design and implementation of the project is a commitment to cross-institutional capacity building.

Approach

As well as being embedded in the cross-stakeholder dialogues that will take place throughout the project, specific capacity-building activities will be incorporated into the work, including a contribution to a Met Services training workshop, a co-supervised masters research projects, and a postdoctoral secondment from Leeds to the Malawi Red Cross Society and 510 Initiative.

This work builds on existing work on climate impacts and adaptation in Malawi and will feed into both new climate service innovations and the improvement of existing work on forecast-based financing. The proposal has been developed by an experienced cross-disciplinary team, with expertise in farming systems research, climate science and forecast modelling, climate services, and risk, vulnerability and humanitarian response. The team represents a partnership between the Sustainability Research Institute (SRI) at the University of Leeds, the UK Met Office, the Red Cross 510 Initiative, the Malawi Red Cross Society, and the Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANR), Malawi.