Uncertainty reduction in models for understanding development (UMFULA)

Economic growth in Central and Southern Africa is occurring against a backdrop of high exposure and vulnerability to climate change, but with relatively low capacity for adaptation. Major infrastructural investments with 5-40 year lifetimes are being planned and implemented in the region – many in the absence of climate information. Ensuring they are viable in a changing climate is essential, yet decision-makers face significant challenges in assessing how climate change affects investment decisions. UMFULA’s overarching aims are to address critical knowledge gaps in the understanding of the region’s climate and communicate effectively climate information to decision-makers; both are crucial to enable climate resilient development in Central and Southern Africa.


UMFULA – Uncertainty reduction in Models For Understanding development (UMFULA means ‘river’ in Zulu) – is a four-year research project that aims to link climate information to development decisions and inform response strategies through:

  • Providing new insights and more reliable information about climate processes and extremes in Central and Southern Africa, and
  • Understanding local contexts to test and compare approaches to decision-making under uncertainty and develop policy options compatible over a range of uncertain climatic and socio-economic futures.

Case studies

The project team works in collaboration with stakeholders in the Rufiji Basin in Tanzania and in Southern Malawi to apply the research findings in local decision-making contexts and inform the design of a transferable approach to integration of climate services for decision-making.

The Rufiji produces half of Tanzania’s river flow, supplies water for 4.5 million people and generates 80% of the country’s hydropower. Multiple stakeholders within the river basin are currently planning major medium to long-term investments, such as the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania, to meet the government’s development plan. These developments, together with increasing demands on water resources within the context of a changing climate, will affect key water-using sectors, involving important trade-offs among water uses.

Decentralised governance in Malawi means that districts are playing increasing roles in decision-making; although natural systems, such as the Shire River, do not coincide with such political boundaries, necessitating interaction between national and local levels. Scenarios of projected water availability under climate change will be used to inform decision-making processes on issues such as water infrastructure development and irrigation for agriculture.


Policy Coherence for Sustainable Development in sub-Saharan Africa Webinar  (4th October)


How do staff motivation and workplace environment affect capacity of governments to adapt to climate change in developing countries? (published in: Environmental Science & Policy)
October 2018

Policy coherence for sustainable development in sub-Saharan Africa
August 2018

Climate information needs in Southern Africa: a review
July 2018

Climate change adaptation and cross-sectoral policy coherence in southern Africa (published in Regional Environmental Change)
April 2018

Climate change and the water–energy–food nexus: insights from policy and practice in Tanzania (published in Climate Policy)
December 2017

Future climate projections for Tanzania
November 2017

Future climate projections for Malawi
October 2017

Guide: How to understand and interpret global climate model results
September 2017

Climate change adaptation and cross-sectoral policy coherence in southern Africa
April 2017

Africa’s climate: Helping decision-makers make sense of climate information
November 2016

Climate models: What they show us and how they can be used in planning
December 2016

Climate, dams and data in Tanzania – blog
April 2017

Consortium members and partners

Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment (lead), Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, Kulima Integrated Development Solutions, Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Sokoine University of Agriculture, University of Cape Town, University of Dar Es Salaam, University of KwaZulu-Natal, University of Leeds, University of Manchester, University of Oxford, University of Sussex.


UMFULA is one of the five research consortia which form the Future Climate for Africa (FCFA) Programme, jointly funded by the UK Department for International Development and the UK Natural Environment Research Council.

More information

What is UMFULA?

FCFA UMFULA website: www.futureclimateafrica.org/umfula