Worker examining a rain gauge at a meteorological station in Kenya.
Worker examining a rain gauge at a meteorological station in Kenya. | Francesco Fiondella

New USAID Initiative to Evaluate the Sustainability and Effectiveness of Climate Services in Africa

By Climatelinks

Africa is highly vulnerable to climate variability and climate change.  When drought strikes and farmers are unprepared, food security and livelihoods suffer.  In Sub-Saharan Africa, agriculture contributes 14 percent of gross domestic product.

Rain-fed agriculture accounts for approximately 96 percent of the cropland, making agriculture particularly sensitive to weather and a changing climate. Between 2014 and 2016, roughly 220 million people — or 23 percent of Sub-Saharan Africa’s population — were undernourished.

Providing timely and accurate climate and weather information has potential to improve agricultural production, food security and farmer livelihoods. While national meteorological and hydrological services in Sub-Saharan Africa may have qualified and dedicated staff, resources are generally insufficient to meet needs. But national climate services do not operate in isolation.

A network of public and private actors engages end users in the design of climate services to meet their decision-making needs. Improving collaboration among public and private actors offers potential to increase cost-effectiveness and utility of climate information services for rural end users.

About USAID’s Learning Agenda on Climate Services

USAID is investing in a learning agenda on climate services, to learn more about their effectiveness and the socio-economic circumstances that constrain their use to inform future investments in climate services in Sub-Saharan Africa. Until now, there has been little investment in climate services in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The USAID-funded Assessing Sustainability and Effectiveness of Climate Information Services in Africa will generate new information, evidence, and learning on effective production, delivery and use of climate information to improve rural agricultural livelihood decision-making and outcomes. It will examine the institutional, financial and technical dimensions that need to be considered in the development  of sustainable delivery models for climate services. 

Key Activities of this Project

The project will examine the financial, technical and governance components of climate services systems through the following activities:

  1. Develop metrics to assess sustainable and effective provision of climate services, baseline assessment methodologies, and approaches to bridge existing gaps: A gender-responsive baseline survey methodology will be developed to assess the provision of climate services. The project will explore cost-effective combinations of technologies for weather observation, storage and analysis; identify institutional staffing capacity and systems for communicating climate information to users, and evaluate training and human development requirements for effective climate services operations.

  2. Identify options to improve the sustainability of climate information services: The consortium will carry out a market assessment and review private-sector business models and technology innovations for climate services in different country contexts. The project will take a broad view to assess financial models or approaches, including the policy implications for different models.

  3. Pulling the pieces together: This includes partnership building, knowledge synthesis and uptake of lessons learned. The consortium will build partnerships, conduct monitoring and evaluation, ensure gender considerations are included in the activities, and share the knowledge generated and learned with a wide audience.

The work will focus on Ethiopia, Malawi, Niger, Rwanda and Senegal and is expected to conclude by June 2018.

This project is made up of a consortium of research institutions and implementing agencies. Led by Winrock International, the consortium includes the International Research Institute for Climate and Society, the World Meteorological Organization/Global Framework for Climate Services, the Climate System Analysis Group, and AGRHYMET.

Strategic Objective
Adaptation, Weather



Climatelinks is a global knowledge portal for USAID staff, implementing partners, and the broader community working at the intersection of climate change and international development. The portal curates and archives technical guidance and knowledge related to USAID’s work to help countries mitigate and adapt to climate change. 

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