Community-based approaches for transformative climate services in Tanzania

KADI Dar es Salaam stakeholder workshop gathered together 25 participants from various backgrounds. The workshop day was not just full of dialogue, but also good food, laughter, team building activities, brief presentations, and new connections.

One of the KADI project aims is to co-design climate services for urban context in three African cities – Abidjan, Nairobi, and Dar es Salaam. The goal is to enhance resilience against climate stressors. In the Dar es Salaam city pilot, the focus is on designing climate service for citizens for coping with current and future impacts of heavy precipitation, extreme heat, and air pollution (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Validating flood, air pollution and extreme heat hotspots, and discussing their causes during focus group discussion in Kigogo ward, Dar es Salaam. Image: Venla Aaltonen

Led by the University of Turku (UTU), Finland and Ardhi University (ARU), Dar es Salaam, the climate service design has grounds on a community-based approaches to ensure the development of a climate service with genuine potential for sustainable uptake by citizens and other actors involved in climate-related activities within the city. The design builds on the existing Tanzanian Resilience Academy approach where students from local universities, together with community members, collect crucial data on climate stressors, their impacts, city’s vulnerabilities, the urban infrastructure, and the environment using low-cost mobile tools.

Community focus group discussion and participatory mapping

To address the true needs of the urban communities, initial activities of the pilot focused on engaging relevant actors – especially the citizens – to discuss concrete needs for climate action and access to climate information. Two focus group discussions were conducted on February 6th and 7th in Tandale and Kigogo wards, both frequently experiencing floods, extreme heat, and air pollution.

Prior these discussions a participatory mapping campaign was conducted in October 2023, revealing valuable information not previously recorded regarding the spatial occurrence of poor air quality, extreme heat, and floods, which were used as a basis for the focus group discussions. The participatory mapping campaign was conducted by ARU students who had previously attended Resilience Academy data collection activities.

Figure 2. Map visualisation of air pollution experiences of Tandale community members. The experiences were collected via participatory mapping campaign, and the mapped hotspots reveal e.g. unofficial dumping sites where waste is burned, as well as areas where liquid waste runs due to lack of proper drainage systems. Image: Venla Aaltonen

As it is evident that the climate itself – high temperatures or amount of precipitation – cannot be changed, the focus group discussions highlighted that the communities’ needs for adapting to and coping with climate stressors are tied to improved urban planning. Issues such as proper solid waste management to prevent drainage blockage and flooding emerged as crucial. Lack of proper waste management also leads to continuous burning of solid waste which is a constant source for air pollution and additional heat in the neighbourhoods. In addition to solid waste management, the communities emphasized the importance of overall better urban infrastructure, including improved drainage networks, liquid waste management, regulations on land building, flood barrier construction, and better management of the natural rivers flowing through the wards.
Most importantly, the discussions underscored the significance of transferring local knowledge to formats interoperable with existing and new climate data, and urban plans. The KADI Dar es Salaam city pilot concentrates on this very element where the vast local knowledge could be integrated in creating actionable climate services that combine climate information with contextual neighbourhood-level information for genuine and sustainable transformation.

Stakeholder workshop

The stakeholder workshop that followed the focus group discussions was held on February 9th and involved representatives from citizen communities, academia, the Tanzanian Meteorological Agency, ward-level environmental offices, and urban planners (Figure 3). The workshop delved deeper into concrete steps for meeting community needs, emphasizing collaborative efforts of the governmental offices and the local communities. Solving the urban planning challenges for improved climate resilience require a lot of human resources, time, money, political will, and data and information of the occurrence and impacts of climate stressors in the city.

Figure 3. Stakeholder workshop participants engaging in discussion of concrete steps for addressing challenges introduced by climate stressors in Dar es Salaam neighbourhoods. Image: Epvate & Fortune International Consulting

For example, the following questions were discussed:

  • What are concrete steps that needs to be taken to meet communities’ needs?
  • Who are needed to carry out these steps?
  • What data or information must be collected, and what is already existing
  • What immediate actions could be taken, and which are more long-term goals?

As another important discussion note, the workshop highlighted challenges in the information flow from the Tanzanian Meteorological Agency to communities regarding climate-related warnings (Figure 4). Discussions centred on improving this flow which currently is time-consuming or behind a paywall. Communities suggest the involvement of local informants who could communicate the situations in neighborhood-level in real time, which aids TMA in down-scaling forecasts, warnings, and climate projections to be more useful to communities in different parts of the city.

Figure 4. Stakeholder workshop participants discussing the problems and desired solutions for climate information accessibility from official sources, such as the Tanzanian Meteorological Agency. Image: Venla Aaltonen

Final note from the perspective of execution of the workshop is a shoutout for the ice-breaking exercise that initiated the day. Participants discussed and listed challenges they meet in their daily lives (not only climate-related!) on post-it notes (Figure 5). During breakfast break, the challenges were clustered to thematic groups, and after the break each challenge was discussed and marked whether they are somehow related to climate, urban planning, or both. Almost each challenge mentioned were definitely related to both, and many of the challenges were also heavily interconnected. This initial ice-breaker exercise was aimed to take maximum 20 minutes – just to get conversation flowing – but ended up taking much more time and laid solid ground for the rest of the day. The success of this approach is credited to the KADI WP1 Wits team for their valuable advice, and we can highly recommend similar approach for other stakeholder/actor workshops coming along the KADI project.

Figure 5. Ice-breaker exercise initiated a lively discussion on the causes and effects of different challenges the workshop participants face in their everyday life. Power cuts, overcrowding, chaotic traffic, floods, unstable food prices, poor solid waste management, unofficial sewage discharge, diseases, thefts, and heat inside houses are all connected to climate stressors or urban planning issues, but often to both. Image: Venla Aaltonen

Lessons learned and next steps

Looking back to organising this workshop, there are things we would do differently. We did include three presentation slots to the day to introduce the KADI project, climate service concepts, and the activities we had done prior the workshop. However, kicking off the day, conducting the ice-breaker exercise, having food breaks, and discussing the intended themes took much longer than anticipated. These things were important, and giving them time was purposeful, and thus presenting so many slideshows could have been organised with another approach. Also, not everyone invited to the workshop arrived. This was somewhat managed by inviting two individuals from desired organisations, and at least one representative arrived from each organisation, except from the city’s disaster risk management office, and from an NGO with expertise in community development and participatory mapping.

From now as the KADI Dar es Salaam city pilot progresses, the research team design a climate service concept that incorporates local knowledge to the whole lifecycle of the climate service. The Tanzanian Resilience Academy approach, involving local students in data collection, is a potential avenue, but various community-based methods are also incorporated to the design, such as citizen weather stations (CWS) and participatory online platforms for information sharing.

We want to give a sincere thank you for everyone who have been part of our activities during these last months. The communities’ views on climate and other everyday challenges are often asked, and the most pressing issues in the neighbourhoods are known. However, concrete actions are lacking behind. Climate services are not the sole solution in solving the challenges, but they are an important building block for data-driven and knowledge-based collaborative action by various actors in the local context, and give tools for climate adaptation for the urban communities.

All these activities were carried out by our KADI Dar es Salaam climate service city pilot research team:

Venla Aaltonen
University of Turku

Dr. Nelly Babere
Ardhi University

Dr. Lukuba Sweya
Ardhi University

Prof. Niina Käyhkö
University of Turku

Hilary Mvungi
Ardhi University

Msilikale Msilanga
University of Turku

ICOS Science Conference 2024: Call for Abstracts is Open!

The conference organisers are pleased to open the Call for Abstracts to ICOS Science Conference 2024!

The conference takes place 10-12 September in Versailles Palais des Congrès, France, and online. With the overarching theme “From GHG observations through science to services”, the sessions cover ICOS’s three domains – Atmosphere, Ecosystem and Ocean.

Abstracts from KADI participants are warmly welcomed, as the session list includes many topics that are relevant to our work. You will also find many familiar names as session conveners.

Here are a few picks from the sessions list that might be of interest to you:  

5. Impact of climate extremes on GHG fluxes: understanding driving processes and responses across scales
7. Carbon Cycling along the Land Ocean Aquatic Continuum
9. Combining data and models to improve estimates of regional to global GHG budgets and trends
12. Translating Scientific CO2 Emission Research into City Services
13. In situ data for climate and other environmental services and policy support
15. Science communication and outreach to increase the impact of climate research

Click here for the full list of sessions and their descriptions.

The Call for Abstracts is open until Monday, 8 April, 13:00 CET. More information on how to submit an abstract can be found here:

Ocean scientists call for increased efforts towards a global surface ocean carbon observing system

Late last year, over a hundred ocean carbon scientists from around the world met at Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ) in Oostende, Belgium, to review the status of the Surface Ocean Carbon Value Chain and decide on specific improvements to the structure, process and information sharing. Now they have released a declaration for focused international and intergovernmental efforts to create a robust, resilient and sustainable surface ocean carbon observing system. 

The Global Carbon Budget reports that in the last decade the ocean alone takes up about 26% of the CO₂ emitted to the atmosphere every year, thus limiting greater climate change. However, ocean CO₂ uptake varies significantly in time and space and a large number of high-quality continuous measurements is needed to monitor and predict the ever-changing scales and patterns of the air-sea interactions and to monitor and predict any adverse impacts of this uptake such as ocean acidification.

Over the past three decades, the community of ocean carbon experts and stakeholders has developed a multi-component system capable of measuring, storing, synthesising and mapping ocean-related carbon parameters, enabling their use in the annual Global Carbon Budget, model projections, and inversion systems. These activities together are referred to as the surface ocean carbon value chain. Despite the long-standing success in delivering critical information, the surface ocean carbon value chain is configured as a loose affiliation of observing systems and data synthesis elements that lack global integration.

In recent years, recognition of the fundamental value of accurate, systematic and robust ocean carbon information has increased significantly across managerial and policy-making scales, and as a result demands for ocean carbon data products continue to increase. Because of this, the ocean scientific community found it timely to review the operating model of the surface ocean carbon value chain.

In this so-called Oostende Declaration, published by the International Ocean Carbon Coordination Project, the scientific community share an ambition to completely transform the ability to deliver an integrated global ocean carbon monitoring system, helping countries to better understand and manage the causes of climate change in a timely and efficient manner. In order to do so, they request that all national and regional funding agencies and structures, global and regional intergovernmental agencies, as well as global and regional coordination bodies take note of this ambition and provide necessary support.

Click here to read the full declaration.

New publication on the greenhouse gas emission trends across Africa over the last 3 decades

Earlier in January, a new review article written by Mounia Mostefaoui and colleagues was published in Earth System Science Data.

The aim of the publication was to assess African anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions and removals by using different data products, including inventories and process-based models, and to compare their relative merits with inversion data coming from satellites. Their results show a good match among the various estimates in terms of overall trends at a regional level and on a decadal basis, but large differences even among similar data types, which is a limit to the possibility of verification of country-reported data.

Click here to read the full article.

Call for session proposals is now open for ICOS Science Conference 2024!

The organisers are excited to invite the scientific and research community to propose sessions for the ICOS Science Conference 2024!

ICOS Science Conference 2024 will be a hybrid event held at the Versailles Palais des Congrès, France, and virtually on 10-12 September, 2024.

The overarching theme of the conference is “From GHG observations through science to services”.

How to submit a session proposal

Please send your session proposal in the following format:

  • Title of the session
  • Name of convener/co-convener(s) (affiliation and email) willing to review abstracts
  • Session description (max. 200 words)

Send your submissions, along with any questions you may have, to our conference team via email at

Submissions will be considered on their scientific merits and the significance of their respective themes. If accepted, they will be incorporated into the final programme.

The deadline for submissions is noon (12:00CET) in Thursday 23rd of November, 2023.

You can see examples of potential session themes on the ICOS Science Conference page.

How to reduce Africa’s undue exposure to climate risks

A new article recently published in Nature highlighted the ways Africa is being disproportionately impacted by climate change induced extreme weather. The authors, including KADI project partner Patricia Nying’uro from Kenya Meteorological Department, also suggested solutions and next steps for climate risk reduction.

Our new paper highlights that in order to cushion African countries from the impacts of severe or extreme weather events, there urgently needs to be an improvement in the density of observation stations across the continent” says Patricia. “Additionally, research funding should address gaps in data collection and analysis, and data must be publicly available, easily accessible and shared with African governments and intergovernmental organizations”, she adds.

This aligns with our work in KADI where identifying operational capabilities of National Meteorological and Hydrological Services in Africa as well as outlining ideal Research Infrastructure are the first steps towards developing solutions to address data and research gaps.

You can read the full article by clicking here.