As populations around the world are increasingly affected by climate change, we must build trust in climate data to foster greater resilience.

This post originally appeared on the SEEP blog.

As the frequency and magnitude of climate-related hazards increases, these changes are affecting people’s livelihoods — particularly those of rural and vulnerable populations — more than ever. In response to this challenge, climate data can be employed in program design to foster greater resilience for livelihoods at the household and community levels.

To strengthen Malian farmers’ resilience to climate and weather variations, it’s not enough to ensure that they have accurate and timely climate information. The farmers must trust in it. By using a three-pronged approach that addresses communities’ trust in, access to, and use of climate information, the USAID Mali Climate Change Adaptation Activity (MCCAA) has helped to provide high-quality climate information to communities, and more importantly, ensure that they apply it. Through its experience, MCCAA has identified three ways that implementers of similar activities can ensure that the communities they serve can trust and apply climate data to its full potential.

A community member in Koporo Pen Commune collects rainfall data using a rain gauge.

1. Build knowledge and awareness.

During its baseline assessment, MCCAA found that producers significantly distrusted the forecasting produced by the National Meteorological Agency, Mali Météo. So even if producers received accurate and timely climate information, they didn’t trust the quality of climate data — and more importantly, they didn’t use this data to inform their decisions, such as deciding which crops to plant and when.

Much of this distrust stemmed from community members’ misunderstanding of weather forecasts and key forecast-related concepts, such as probabilities and percentages. A climate forecast is a tool — but a tool that isn’t always accurate. If a forecast predicts a 90 percent chance of rain, for example, there is a 10 percent chance that it won’t rain, and there’s also a chance that the level of rainfall will vary within the area covered by a forecast. One part of a town or village may see heavy rainfall, while another area may only receive a light sprinkle. To help communities understand this variation in the accuracy of climate information, MCCAA distributed three rain gauges per village, each placed in a different location across the village. MCCAA then trained rain gauge committees in each village to monitor the rain gauges and record the information, raising awareness among community members on variations in rainfall within a village and helping them make more informed decisions on where to invest community time and resources … Read the full post on the SEEP blog.

Posts on the blog represent the views of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of Chemonics.