Using MSD to Unlock Private Investment & Support Climate-Resilient Food Systems
Updated: Nov 7
Climate change has been a slow-moving risk for some time now, but what is often missed, which this blog points out, is that there are immediate consequences affecting most people around the world, especially the most vulnerable. As the blog highlights, increasing weather variability is a challenge for most smallholder farmers, including in Uganda. At the same time, the ability to effectively forecast weather has remained low, which creates a circumstance of increasing risks since erratic weather patterns mean farmers are often caught off guard damaging crops and reducing productivity. In response to this challenge the activity focused on raising the value proposition and capacity of public goods resources related to weather forecasting. By focusing on the value proposition of public investment and capacity in forecasting and communicating weather events, the activity is also shifting the system to provide ongoing improvements in weather forecasting. As the blog highlights, taking a systems thinking approach is critical to both dealing with the immediate issues, but also intervening in ways that catalyzes ongoing improvements in how the system manages challenges going forward.
Due to climate change, millions of farmers in Uganda are facing unpredictable rainfall, longer droughts, and frequent floods. The lack of accurate and timely weather information prevents farmers from knowing when to plant, how to forecast expected yields, and how to plan for food insecurity and disasters. In some regions, such as the Karamoja region, cattle rustlers often use deadly force to steal livestock and overtake the few sources of water for livestock drinking.
Here, weather information could help mitigate conflict and strengthen resilience to shocks associated with droughts and floods. By knowing more about timing and levels of rainfall in key water points, communities and security forces could better predict the movements of cattle rustlers. But these security risks and others limit private investment in weather systems, which ultimately inhibits participation of risk mitigation service providers, such as insurance companies that require accurate information to structure products and services.
So, in environments where private sector participation is important, but inhibited, how can we effectively engage the public sector to provide an enabling environment for the private sector?
Applying a market systems development approach to unlock private investment
The USAID/Uganda Institutional Systems Strengthening Activity, led by DT Global, is using a market systems development (MSD) approach/market-based incentivizes to help the public sector support more climate-resilient food systems and unlock private investment. This is in response to the challenge of unreliable weather information, a key market constraint identified by Ugandan market actors. The ISS Activity is piloting ways to generate evidence and access to weather information — to incentivize advocacy, efficient allocation of limited funds, and scaling of both public and eventually private investment across the country.
Aligned with their mandate, USAID/ISS is leveraging the Uganda National Meteorological Authority (UNMA), National Information Technology Authority, and the Uganda National Metrology School, International Standards Organization to improve the capacity of meteorological observers and forecasters. This work includes upgrading the metrology school training curriculum on emerging technology trends, creating seasonal multistakeholder and policy briefs for advocacy, procuring and installing eight weather stations in Karamoja, and developing a smartphone application integrated with UNMA’s existing web-based data Weather Information Dissemination Systems (WIDS).
Lessons learned on MSD implementation
The private sector is not always the entry point for MSD solutions, particularly in conflict-affected and risky environments.
The barrier to public sector action is often “right-sized” evidence and information to advocate for allocation of resources, improve their role in climate adaptation, and increase resilience of food systems.
Promoting digital solutions among government partners is a highly effective tool for service and policy implementation/service delivery.
Public investment in weather infrastructure de-risks private sector investments and strengthens the resilience capacities of households. The building of the stations must be driven by shared interest between the public and private sectors.
Investment to mobilize technology applications strengthens systems for service delivery at public institutions, enabling masses to access weather information.
There has been a notable improvement in the quality of services offered by UNMA as result of the above market system based intuitional strengthening intervention by the ISS Activity. UNMA’s improved capacity has improved the enabling environment for private sector investment.
‘’I am glad to inform you that with your support, UNMA has been recertified under ISO 9001:2015 for the provision of Aeronautical Meteorological Services and Support Services, said Dr. Paul Ogwang, Executive Director for UNMA. “The certificate has a bearing on the quality of all services provided by UNMA to support decision making and planning in all economic sectors, including agriculture and food security, water resources, energy, health, and disaster risk reduction among, among others.’’
Authors: Katy Allen, Anthony Nyungu, Yohannes Assefa