Addressing climate change through innovation and partnership

Caritas Switzerland seeks to ensure that Switzerland contributes to greater climate justice – by substantially reducing its own greenhouse gases and at the same time supporting climate-exposed countries and vulnerable people in adapting to the devastating consequences of  the climate crisis. How this can function is demonstrated by an international, innovative project in collaboration with numerous partners, which supplies farmers in Tajikistan with vital weather data.


Concrete measures against advancing climate change mean investments and are accompanied by restrictions. The climate issue is also a question of justice. Responsibility for the state of the world’s climate lies with the industrialised countries with their high CO2 emissions. Developing countries, which are only responsible for a fraction of global climate change, are particularly vulnerable to the climate crisis. The poorest are experiencing the consequences of climate change on their livelihoods, food security and health most acutely.

Resilience from innovative weather data

With its climate projects, Caritas Switzerland gives practical support to enable the people affected to adapt better to climate change and thus gain new perspectives for their future. The aim is to enable them to increase their resilience to current and future climate conditions. To ensure the correct measures, Caritas Switzerland systematically includes climate and satellite data in designing and implementing its projects.

Adaptation to the new climatic conditions can succeed, as a project in Tajikistan impressively shows. The rural population in the mountains of Tajikistan is unprepared for the unpredictability of the weather and climate: loss of the harvest due to frost, blocked roads after landslides, houses swept away in the spring floods – the weather and its impacts are ever present. Advancing climate change increases spring rainfall, leads to large volumes of melting water from glaciers and snow and causes extreme periods of heat in summer.  

Innovation and partnership

Caritas Switzerland supports the rural population in Tajikistan with an innovative approach of working with, rather than against, the weather. Reliable weather forecasts and  storm warnings are taken for granted in Switzerland. In Tajikistan, they are mostly lacking. Caritas is therefore working towards nationally available services for weather, water and climate that take the immediate needs of the population into account, such as increasing agricultural productivity and thus improve their food security and livelihood. To achieve this, the project backs low-cost weather stations whose data is supplemented with weather observations by the farmers. This system is entirely based on open-source technology and can be adapted to the specific requirements in the country. Instead of the weather service, it is the farmers who maintain the stations and supplement their data with their own observations. Telecommunications companies in the country ensure the transfer of these data to the weather service, and of local and need-specific services from the weather service to the population. With the help of these weather, water and climate services, they can manage their resources in a more targeted and sustainable way, take informed decisions on sowing and harvesting, and be better prepared to withstand the risks posed by natural hazards. The new observation data and processes allow a target-oriented adaptation to climate change.

The international project was set up under the auspices of Caritas Switzerland, in cooperation with numerous partners such as the Federal Office of Meteorology and Climatology MeteoSwiss, the Swiss WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research (SLF), the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) as well as the International Center for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas (ICARDA). The cooperation at government level in Tajikistan receives substantial support from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), which funds around half of the project costs. ‘MeteoSwiss supports the international project with know-how in meteorology and measurement techniques, advises on the construction and operation of low-cost measuring stations and provides support with artificial intelligence processes. The approach of the international project is very promising overall‘, says Christoph Spirig, researcher at the Federal Office of Meteorology and Climatology MeteoSwiss.

In its work on poverty reduction, Caritas Switzerland believes that cooperation with scientific institutes, national actors, private-sector enterprises and climate experts is of central importance. ‘Tackling the climate crisis is not a national matter. It will only succeed if the same goals are pursued across the world, between countries and beyond countries in order to ensure sustainability on this planet and the livelihoods for the global South‘, says Franziska Koller, head of the International Cooperation section of Caritas Switzerland.

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