Use of Climate Information for Early Warning and Community-based Planning


In Niger, CARE noted that the national early warning system (EWS) obtained much of its data from the various technical services based in their districts. This was then forwarded to the national level. Little or no information (e.g. on likely weather conditions, prices, possible food shortages) was sent to the communities for them to be able to take the necessary measures to adapt. Other than developing their own local adaptation strategies, the communities were often only passive recipients of food aid. Aware of these weaknesses, CARE Niger undertook the project of a community-based early warning and planning system (Adaptation Learning Programme – ALP). ALP uses participatory tools and processes to help the communities to develop Adaptation Action Plans.

Although most of the villagers are unable to read and write, it is possible to translate these plans into symbols.

The communities are learning to adapt their adaptation plans when they receive information from the seasonal weather forecasts.

This information includes:

  • Seasonal forecasts and local observation of climate change which are used for short-term planning covering the high degree of variability of rainfall from one year to the next.
  • Long-term climate forecasts (5-30 years) are used for medium- and long-term planning.


The ALP strategy for using climate knowledge to strengthen the adaptation capacity includes several elements: • Connecting the communities to easy and timely access to climate information and messages using local and national meteorological services (in the local language) • Engaging the communities to share their local knowledge and collect local climate information, through voluntary farmers recruited by the communities • Disseminating climate information in a way suitable for the local context, using the local language, rural radio, cell phones, and through “Participatory Scenario-based Planning" • Helping the communities to learn to deal with the uncertainty of the knowledge about climate change, learning to work with probabilities and risk levels. • Strengthening the awareness-raising and risk management capacities and reducing the impact of a potential disaster (in the context of the adaptation capacity)


Impacts included: - Strengthening the intra and inter-community social relations, by involving women's groups, organising inter-community meetings to validate the information collected. - Helping the communities to use seasonal climate information to review their community adaptation action plans. - Giving the communities the opportunity to decide on the planting dates and other major crop measures based on immediate access to actual rainfall data.
CARE International's Adaptation Learning Programme (ALP) enables the communities to establish their own early warning systems, including the collection of rainfall and weather information by volunteers, and linking them to the official early warning system of the government.


The project represented an innovative approach to leveraging an often neglected resource in the adaptation efforts: the knowledge, capacity and creativity of the rural communities themselves.