In Asia, climate variations affect food security and well being of communities and make planning for the monsoon season a vital process. Monsoon Forums help climate scientists better understand decision-makers’ information requirements, and assists potential users of climate forecasts better understand and use information for early warning of potential climate related risks and in enhancing preparedness planning. The Forums bring together technical institutions involved in generating climate and early warning information, and the potential users of such information including government agencies, international organizations, NGOs, donors and others.
In many countries, national meteorological and hydrological services provide a suite of products for the early warning of severe weather, flood, drought, and other climate-related hazards. Severe weather forecasts of two days lead time have been used for saving lives while forecasts of longer lead times (10-25 days and one month or more) are useful in supporting livelihoods-related decisions; the timing of land preparation, sowing, application of fertilizer and insecticides, irrigation, and harvesting; the movement of livestock; and in contingency and logistics planning, for example release of water from a dam at a particular time during the monsoon season to lower flood risks from emergency spills, and stockpiling of relief supplies in a particular region. In practice, however, users are reluctant to use longer-lead forecast products because accuracy declines as lead time increases. Yet, expressed in probabilities, it is possible to use these forecast products within a risk management framework. RIMES efforts in bridging this gap has helped institutionalize Monsoon Forums that sustain dialogue between the producers of climate information and the user agencies, resulting in enhanced use of this information for decisions in sectors linked to food security.
The Monsoon Forum serves as a national platform for this dialogue process, with the following objectives:
- Communicate climate and hydrological outlooks for the incoming season, including their uncertainties and limitations, and ensure that these are understood by users.
- Receive user inputs to make these products user-friendly and applicable.
- Encourage climate forecast applications for mitigating risks in various climate-sensitive sectors, including, but not limited to agriculture, water resource management, disaster management, and health.
- Provide a platform for inter-agency coordination of policies, sectoral plans, and programs for dealing with potential impacts of hydro-meteorological hazards.
- Evaluate performance of forecast products and user application during the previous season.
- Provide a platform for the long-term process of understanding the risks posed and opportunities brought about by past, current, and future climate.
RIMES facilitated the establishment of, and continues to support, Monsoon Forums in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Mongolia (Winter Forum), Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Timor-Leste, and Vietnam.