Increasing Food Security: Mali's National Meteorological Service Helps Farmers Manage Climate Risk
Full Case Study (PDF, 319 Kb)
In 1982, Mali’s national meteorological service initiated a project designed to provide farmers with seasonal climate information. The project responded to the critical link between climate and agricultural production, dramatically illustrated by a series of severe drought events that plagued the Sahelian region throughout the 1970s and 1980s. By providing farmers with information at critical points in the growing season, the project aimed to help rural communities manage the risks associated with variable rainfall.
Effective communication of information has been a major factor in this project. Climate information is processed by a working group into 10-day bulletins and 3-day weather forecasts. The former are given to national policy makers working on food security, and are broadcast through television and radio. The weather forecasts are downscaled to target regions and broadcast in local languages by radio stations, enabling them to reach rural farmers. However, obstacles still remain, such as low literacy among farmers and difficulties in translating technical terms into local languages.
Farmers who have participated in the project consistently report higher yields, and correspondingly higher incomes, from fields where agro-meteorological information is used. The evidence suggests that farmers affiliated with the project are able to use climate information to take more risks, invest in new technologies, and seek information from other sources in order to increase production and, ultimately, income.
About the Authors:
Dr. Molly Hellmuth received her Ph.D. in civil and environmental engineering from the University of Colorado (USA), while working at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (Austria). She specializes in the economics of climate risk management, and has contributed to the Stern Review and is cited extensively in the IPCC Working Group II Fourth Assessment Report. Dr. Hellmuth is currently based at the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI) at the Earth Institute of Columbia University (USA), where she is an Associate Research Scientist and the Director of the publication series, “Climate and Society.”
Daouda Zan Diarra leads the Agrometeorological Division of Mali’s Direction Nationale de la Météorologie. For more than 20 years, Diarra has coordinated DNM’s agrometeorological project, providing climate and weather information to rural Malians and helping to foster adaptation to climate change. Diarra was trained in agrometeorology at the AGRHYMET Center in Niamey, Niger. He is a member of the African Association of Remote Sensing and the Environment and of the Association for the Promotion of Sustainable Development.
Cathy Vaughan is a staff associate at the International Research Institute for Climate and Society, where she coordinates the Latin American program and contributes to the Climate and Society publication series. The co-author of Climate Change: A Reference Handbook, Cathy previously served on the secretariat of the Global Roundtable on Climate Change. She holds master’s degrees from Columbia and Yale universities and served with the U.S. Peace Corps in Zambia.
Rémi Cousin is a member of IRI Data Library Team, where he works to develop new functionalities and enable climate information communication and dissemination to end users. He holds a degree in engineering with majors in geo-sciences from l’Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Mines de Nancy. He has previously worked for Collecte Localisation Satellites (CLS) at Mercator-Océan (Toulouse, France) and at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL, Pasadena, CA).
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