The 3rd stakeholder workshop of the FOCUS-Africa project took place from 30 May to 3 June 2022 in Pretoria, South Africa with about seventy participants comprising local stakeholders, consortium and advisory board members, and representatives from National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHS) in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region. It was the first in-person stakeholder workshop for the project due to the project having started at the onset of the COVID pandemic. The first part of the workshop involved consortium member discussions on progress, challenges and next steps towards realizing the project goals and objectives. The food-water-energy nexus was also discussed with aim of enhancing interlinkages and synergies between climate services and case studies in different sectors.
For the stakeholder component of the workshop, one of the main objectives was to better understand the climate services needs and requirements of users in two of the eight case studies of the project: Food Security in South Africa and Water in Mauritius. Besides technical presentations and panel discussions by stakeholders from South Africa and Mauritius, there were also breakout groups on the socio-economic aspects of the two targeted case studies. Having the workshop participants in one location for few days enhanced the interactions among climate researchers, services providers and users. A great deal of dialogues and exchanges took place during coffee breaks, lunches, and dinners, in such setting that were missing during the virtual workshops. In addition, one afternoon was dedicated to capacity development for the participants from the SADC NMHSs, during which discussions were held on the opportunities, technical needs and challenges for implementing improved and objective seasonal forecasting (OSF) methodologies in the region.
The consortium participants had the opportunity to interact with several farmers and municipality delegates from the North-West South Africa territories. One important message we took home from their interventions: “A farmer wants only one thing: an average season. Not a dry season, not a wet season. An average season”. FOCUS-Africa will work with these farmers to reduce the impact of “anomalous seasons” in their livelihood.
The next stakeholder workshop of the project will be in Mozambique in May 2023. In the meantime, the FOCUS-Africa team will continue with stakeholder engagement and climate services development through remote meetings and in-country missions, with the next mission planned for Malawi in September 2022.