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CSIR Articles : Communicating climate information for decision-making - SADC Climate Change Project

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29 October, 2013

Communicating climate information for decision-making - SADC Climate Change Project

By: Claire Davis

Council for Scientific and Industrial Research,
Natural Resources and the Environment,
P.O. Box 320,
South Africa


The USAID-funded project was designed to build capacity among the SADC member states in understanding information on climate impact and risk in the context of early-warning strategies and planning. The central product of this project was a handbook entitled "Climate Risk and Vulnerability: A Handbook for Southern Africa" ( The aim of this handbook was to provide decision-makers with up to date information, appropriate for national and sub-national planning, on the risks of climate change and variability, as well as equipping them with understanding of potential responses to manage those risks.

In order to meet its aims, the production of "Climate Risk and Vulnerability: A Handbook for Southern Africa" has been innovative in a number of respects. Firstly, it was produced by a team that comprises climate scientists, social scientists with experience in impacts, vulnerability and adaptation, and communications experts. Secondly, and reflecting this diverse team, the content covers the likely physical manifestations of climate change in southern Africa, together with an understanding of how social vulnerability and adaptive capacity affect how such changes translate into impacts. Novel downscaled climate projections (including results from both empirical and dynamical downscaling) for the region are presented in the context of managing uncertainty, including a broader conception of understanding around climate change, including the overall status of evidence and how we know. The chapter on vulnerability introduces the concepts of vulnerability and adaptive capacity, and draws on real-world case studies from around the region, contributed by a variety of different practitioners. The handbook concludes with an overview of potential responses, including both mitigation and adaptation, in order to respond to the risks of climate change.

The information made available through the handbook has begun to serve the increasing requests by stakeholders in southern Africa for information about climate change and its impacts on key sectors in the region. Building upon the core chapters in the handbook, a three day training course was specially developed for Namibia, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. The training course material is available for download at

Contact: CSIR