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Climate change modellers must make their research more relevant to farmers and policymakers in Africa by making predictions just a few years ahead.

This was among the key messages to emerge from a meeting on climate science and policy on the continent, which was held on 30 March in London, United Kingdom.

Delegates pointed out that African policymakers need to know what climate change will cost and so need predictions about the next 10-30 years.

Farmers, meanwhile, need to know about the coming seasons, looking up to five years ahead.

They added that that refining predictions to cover just 5-20 years ahead would allow climate science to match the timescales of development targets, such as the UN Millennium Development Goals.

Delegates also discussed the importance of linking climate change scientists with those who use their findings.

To encourage this, they said specific projects are needed, such as sustained partnerships between African researchers and policymakers.

They also recommended that partnerships be set up between Western and African institutions.

Stephen Connor of Columbia University in the United States argued that the greatest causes of sickness and death in Africa were infectious diseases and malnutrition, both of which are sensitive to changes in the climate.

This, he said, suggested that climate studies should be integrated into risk management in sectors such as malaria control.

The conference brought together 70 researchers and policymakers from Africa, international organisations and the UK government.

It was organised by the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research and the International Institute for Environment and Development.

Full proceedings of climate change in Africa meeting  [100 KB]