COF is a coordinated and collaborative effort of NOAA and a range of partners, such as the USAID-OFDA, the World Bank, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), etc., designed to give decision-makers in climate sensitive sectors such as agriculture, water resources, guidance on the status of the approaching rainfall season. The use of this guidance would help to reduce the impacts of climate risks.
The COF processes have now evolved into a well-defined international procedure for the annual preparation, dissemination, and verification of research based seasonal rainfall forecasts for developing regions such as Africa. Decision-makers in these regions have used the forecasts in the various climate sensitive sectors for strategic management decision, such as decisions on type of farm management practices based on a given seasonal forecast. The COFs have improved institutional capacities, promoted regional cooperation and integration, especially among the National Meteorological and Hydrological services (NMHSs), policy makers and the user communities in the developing regions. This cooperation has contributed to creating institutional building blocks, both at regional and community levels, for effective response and planning to reduce the impacts of hydro-meteorological disasters such as droughts and floods.
The COF process brings together many regional and international scientists, policy and decision-makers, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), public sector institutions and intermediaries of information communication, such as the media and extension. Participating institutions in the process are: WMO, IRI, NGOs, NMH, donors (NOAA, USAID-OFDA, World Bank), universities, research institutions, UK Meteorological Office, the U.S. National Center for Environmental Prediction-Center for Climate Prediction (NCEP-CPC), Inter-American Institutions for Global Change Research (IAI) in Latin America and the Caribbean, the Asian Disaster Preparedness Center (ADPC) and the Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWS NET). The bringing together of multidisciplinary groups such as policy makers and scientists in a forum process has contributed to useful dialogues, discussion of the forecast information, and creation of an effective feedback loop between the information producers and users. From the inception of the COF process its products have, therefore, been the most credible and legitimate source of climate information to decision-makers for climate-related decision-making.
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