The CONFER project 2nd Annual General meeting

In Bergen, Norway, the CONFER project held its 2nd Annual General meeting, marking another milestone in its mission to enhance resilience to climate impacts and reduce disaster risk in East Africa. Representing the Kenya Red Cross Society, Zachary Misiani joined the global consortium to share insights and perspectives that enrich the project’s vision.

CONFER, short for “Co-production of Climate Services for East Africa“, is a multi-national initiative spanning eleven countries and impacting the lives of 365 million people. Its mission is clear: “to co-create specialized climate services tailored for the water, energy, and food security sectors”. These services empower stakeholders and end-users, enabling them to effectively plan for and adapt to the challenges posed by seasonal climate fluctuations.

The three-day meeting revolved around three core tracks:

  1. Stakeholder Engagement & Co-Production: The core of CONFER’s approach lies in engaging end-users from the outset. This approach leverages platforms like the Greater Horn of Africa Climate Outlook Forum (GHACOF) and the Kenya Meteorological Department (KMD) National Climate Outlook Forum (NCOF) to convene approximately 200 stakeholders three times a year. These forums serve as dynamic arenas for co-producing cutting-edge climate services tailored to the project’s focus sectors. Through open and constructive dialogues between climate scientists and stakeholders, CONFER aims to foster awareness and ensure that the potential of its climate products and insights are fully harnessed.
  2.  Capacity Development and Outreach: Parallel to its scientific innovations, CONFER is committed to enriching the knowledge and skills of its experts. A comprehensive training and capacity development program empowers individuals to harness climate information effectively within focus sectors, thereby creating a lasting impact on climate information uptake.
  3. Advancing Scientific Knowledge: Driven by ambition, CONFER is determined to elevate the accuracy of numerical weather prediction model outputs for East Africa, particularly in seasonal forecasting. The project is pioneering the development of statistical and machine learning tools, integrating numerical models with high-resolution satellite data to enhance seasonal climate prediction.
Zachary Misiani presenting on how the CONFER Project is improving the Kenya Red Cross Society services

Among the key outcomes and findings of the annual meeting were discussions on data management, code hosting, and capacity-building initiatives. The project reported significant progress in completing hind cast simulations for various seasons and regions, an essential component of its mission. Plans were also made to store valuable Sentinel-1 satellite data and soil moisture data, which could aid in the understanding and prediction of climate-related events.

On Day 3, CONFER covered specific work streams, such as crop modelling. Preliminaries results were shared regarding the NDVI- yield relationship, though challenges remain due to limited yield data and the influence of external factors. The project explored ways to target specific crops effectively and proposed two tracks for advancement, focusing on scientific refinement and co-development of services.

One of the highlights was the presentation on Workstream 4 (WS4), where Zachary Misiani highlighted the Kenya Red Cross Society’s efforts in improving Early Warning Services. The presentation covered key activities, including the development of Anticipatory Action Strategies and Multi-Hazard Contingency Plans. It also showcased the utilization of climate products from ICPAC and KMD for El Niño preparedness, emphasizing the importance of leveraging CONFER’s outcomes to support these activities.

As the meeting concluded, the spirit of collaboration, knowledge sharing, and resilience-building resonated throughout. CONFER remains committed to its mission of empowering East Africa with climate services that make a difference. The project’s impact extends far beyond data and models. It’s about strengthening communities, enhancing early warning systems, and building partnerships that will endure long after the project’s conclusion.

Group photo of the CONFER Project participants