A look back at the successes of WISER 2

As the second phase of the Weather and Climate Information Services for Africa (WISER) Programme comes to a close, Met Office WISER Programme Manager Kate Ferguson gives an overview of the achievements and learnings from the programme.

I first wrote a blog for the Weather and Climate Information Services for Africa (WISER) Programme just after I joined as Programme Manager back in January 2020. The landscape was very different then, we were mid-implementation with projects in full swing, pushing to reach their targets, and COVID-19 and all its complications was something yet to come our way.

Now WISER as we know it is closing its second phase, we have the chance to look back, not just to that more ‘ordinary’ time, but to where it all began. In 2015, a scoping study – CIASA – was carried out to provide a snapshot of the state of climate services in Africa and outlined gaps that could be addressed. From this, WISER was born. Phase 1 was delivered through 5 ‘quick start’ projects, and these brief but intense projects formed the foundation, learning and direction that became WISER Phase 2.

There is no doubt that the ambition of WISER 2 was immense, with hugely ambitious targets to build on what was achieved through Phase 1, but also to scale that up to cover much of East Africa and grow to 12 projects – some of them with multi-million budgets, some working in extremely complex political and security context and some with much smaller budgets, testing out completely innovate approaches to reaching end users. At its heart, WISER strives to make a difference to millions of people across East Africa, by enhancing their resilience to weather and climate related shocks and improving regional economic development, which is something we are proud to be able to demonstrate.

Co-production is the foundation of WISER – bringing together the science and the end users of weather and climate information to enable better decision making. It’s a huge achievement that the programme has reached 3.3m households with new or improved climate services as a result of this co-production approach. In addition, we now know that the programme has contributed over £200m of avoided losses across East Africa due to the use of climate information. We also know that a lot of the activities carried out have been sustained even after the funding period ended – which is the best legacy you can ask for.

The purpose of the HIGHWAY project was to deliver the provision of regular weather forecasts and severe weather warnings for fishing boats and small transport vessels on Lake Victoria.

As the programme draws to a close, we have naturally been making space to reflect on what has worked well and what could be improved in the future. A series of learning briefs have been produced, and a programme lesson and recommendation summary. There are too many to mention here, but a few key lessons identified across WISER are:

  • Projects have a greater impact when they are aligned to national and regional development priorities, future deigns need to be based around and embedded within these to be complementary.
  • Measuring the socio-economic benefit of a project is an extremely helpful tool to support National Meteorological and Hydrological Services to promote the value of taking a co-production approach and meeting the needs of their users, supporting them to secure future investment and national government budget allocations.
  • Project and programme design needs to be gender-sensitive to be able to consider the inequalities within climate services, and adapt to meet the needs of the most vulnerable and have the greatest impact.

WISER has been the testing ground for many new and innovative project approaches and methodologies, with vast amounts of learning along the way. The aim now is to feed this learning into back into the weather and climate sector, to support future projects and programmes to build on the successes of WISER so far.

Between now and the end of 2021, we will produce a number of resources that can support this, and respond to the programme learnings with a revised, shorter more focused socio economic guidance, a programme level Gender Action Plan to support future project and programme design, a sustainability toolkit to assess what has been ‘left behind’ once funding ends, and of course, a new CIASA report, that will bring together all that has been achieved in the last 6 years, and provide direction for future interventions by identifying remaining gaps within the weather and climate sector in Sub-Saharan Africa.

To find out more about the impacts of WISER as Phase 2 closes, read our news release here.

To find out more about the WISER programme, including the phase 1 and phase 2 projects and learnings, discover our webpages here.

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