Enhancing Climate Services for Improved Water Resources Management in Vulnerable Regions to Climate Change


Based on the findings of the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, 2014) climate change is expected to have a large impact on the availability and demand for water resources, which in turn will exacerbate existing issues in other water-dependent sectors such as health, food production and sustainable energy and for biodiversity. Over the last two decades, climate system science has achieved remarkable advances in monitoring, modelling and prediction of weather and climate, providing valuable information for decision making. Unfortunately a significant gap remains between information availability and the actual uptake by stakeholders. While climate science is reaching maturity in terms of how results are provided thanks to the coordinated action of the IPCC, on the stakeholder side no such framework has yet matured. This mismatch needs to be addressed in order for vulnerable water-stressed communities to benefit from the foresight provided by climate science.

To bridge this gap the concept of climate services has been introduced as a response to the two basic facts:

  • i) everyone is affected by climate, 
  • ii) needs-based climate services are extremely effective in helping communities, businesses, organizations and governments to manage the risks and take advantage of the opportunities associated with the climate. 


Climate services have the objective to provide an effective mechanism to connect climate information with the decision-making processes of stakeholders at different levels of decision making in water management – from the national policy level down to the individual household and farmer. Each user has specific requirements for climate information to factor into their decision-making processes. A farmer needs to decide which crops to plant, when to sow and when to harvest. For those farmers that irrigate, anticipated water allocation is very important information which is often lacking. District irrigation managers need to optimize the allocation of water under their control. Policymakers generally deal with long time horizons such as in deciding allocation rules and entitlements for water-using sectors, priorities for water use during drought, regulations on water quality and economic development policies that impinge upon water resources. For these longer time frames, the changes in climate which are already being observed, as well as the expected changes are relevant in this decision-making process, but deep uncertainty of climate change scenarios complicate the consideration of this information.

Based on the outcomes of the High Level Meeting on National Drought Policy  in 2013, the three key components of risk management has been highlighted. The first component focusses on monitoring and early warning capacities as the foundation of a risk management plan. This is linked with vulnerability/resilience and impact assessment to identify those areas and livelihoods that are most prone to the impact of drought and flood risks. Finally, the mitigation and response planning is closely linked to the other two, and provides preparation and mitigation based on monitoring and early warning, prioritizing most vulnerable areas. These aspects are considered in CLIMWAR to support the implementation of the climate services and information required to move towards integrated risk management policies.

CLIMWAR provides the framework to address the different challenges at the national and at the local watershed level related to climate risks to water resources and includes:

  • Region-wide activity implementation: strengthening of climate services and capacity building of national hydrometeorological agencies.
  • Implementation of integrated climate services in Member States, based on monitoring and early warning, vulnerability assessment and in support of proactive drought and flood management strategies and policies.
  • Outreach to men and women who are local and national stakeholders and capacity building of key actors to improve resilience to climate variability and change.


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