Enhancing Climate Services Capacity in the SADC Region: Insights from the FOCUS-Africa Training Workshop


Climate variability and change pose significant challenges to various sectors, necessitating the development of tailored climate services for effective decision-making. In this pursuit, the FOCUS Africa capacity development training program recently commenced, aiming to bolster the capabilities of climate experts in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region. The workshop, which kicked off on April 11, 2024, heralds a pivotal step towards equipping stakeholders with the necessary tools and knowledge to address climate-related risks.

The initiative stems from the outcomes of the World Climate Conference-3 in 2009, which led to the establishment of the Global Framework for Climate Services, including the User Interface Platform. Recognizing the imperative to bridge the gap between climate science and actionable information for sectors such as agriculture, water, energy, and infrastructure, the FOCUS Africa project was conceived. This endeavor seeks to develop sustainable climate services tailored to the specific needs of the SADC region.

At the heart of the workshop lies a structured approach encompassing three stages of training. The first phase, conducted online over four weeks, acquaints Trainer of Trainees (ToT) with the foundational aspects of FOCUS Africa tools. Subsequently, in-person sessions delve deeper into practical demonstrations and testing, facilitating a hands-on understanding of the tools’ functionalities. The culmination of the training coincides with the Southern Africa Regional Climate Outlook Forum (SARCOF) and Climate Expert Meeting (CEM), where participants apply their newfound expertise to real-world scenarios.

Throughout the workshop, participants engage with a range of topics aligned with the World Meteorological Organization’s competency framework for climate services. From data management to climate model interpretation and service quality assurance, the curriculum aims to foster a comprehensive understanding of climate-related challenges and solutions.

The diverse array of perspectives shared during the workshop highlights the multifaceted nature of climate service delivery. From concerns over forecasting accuracy to the importance of user engagement and capacity building, participants underscore the need for a holistic approach to address climate risks effectively. Insights gleaned from discussions underscore the critical role of stakeholder collaboration, innovation, and responsible research practices in driving meaningful change.