2006 – 2013

Scientific learning and technological innovation hold tremendous opportunities for strengthening capacities to prevent, prepare for, and respond to future crises. Yet unlocking this disaster risk reduction potential remains dependent on developing approaches which support effective dialogue between ‘those who make science’ and ‘those who use science to make decisions’. Only through sustained two-way dialogue will those with ‘humanitarian’ responsibilities know what questions to ask of emerging science and technology, and those with scientific and technical expertise be able to understand how their learning can better inform specific humanitarian decision making processes and contexts. The strengthening of this dialogue has, since 2006, been one of the key strands of HFP, bringing together actors for knowledge exchange. The aim of this exchange has been to provide a platform for dialogue which can bridge existing barriers between the providers and users of weather and climate information and so enhance community resilience to climate variability and change.

In 2011 the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) awarded HFP a Knowledge Exchange Fellowship to identify and share learning on those methodologies and approaches which can strengthen science-humanitarian dialogue. A collation of approaches, designed as a toolkit and practical guide, has been created at www.elrha.org/dialogues detailing the impact of the approaches and allowing for feedback from users.

In 2011, funding from the Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN) was received to undertake two pilot demonstration studies, one in Senegal and the other in Kenya, each extending over two rainy seasons. The specific objectives of these demonstration case studies were to:

• Demonstrate how climate science can effectively inform a range of humanitarian, disaster risk reduction and development planning processes;
• Contextualise emerging understanding of climate science alongside other drivers of future human vulnerability so as to gauge where intervention informed by climate science might be useful;
• Strengthen humanitarian and development organisations’ ability to access, understand and appropriately apply relevant climate information; and
• Improve climate scientists’ understanding of the climate information needs of humanitarian and development policy makers and the partners and communities with whom they work.

To achieve these aims, exchange partners have trialled and developed a range of approaches to strengthen dialogue between the providers and users of science and enable those most directly affected communities to appropriately apply and benefit from relevant scientific understandings of risk.

HFP in Film

A farmer’s forecast: bringing together technical and scientific expertise to build resilience within at risk communities in Mbeere district, Kenya (in Swahili).

Making science, making sense: employing a range of dialogue approaches to develop climate services tailored for at risk groups in Kaffrine district, Senegal.

Decoding science, Reducing risk: capturing discussion from across two UK Government of Science – supported workshops, the first considering the levels of confidence in climate science relevant to humanitarian and development planning, the second the different ways in which humanitarian and development practitioners, academics and funders assess ‘impact’.

Science-Humanitarian Dialogue: bringing together views from across a wide range of partners on the importance of strengthening dialogue between at risk groups, partnering agencies and scientists.