Statement on UKRI funding cuts

UK Research and Innovation has announced a significant cut to the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) as a result of the UK government’s decision to reduce spending on international aid.

The GCRF African SWIFT team first learned about the cuts to the GCRF programme in a letter that UKRI published on Thursday, 11th March.

Although there remains significant uncertainty about how these cuts will impact the African SWIFT programme specifically, there is little doubt that there will be consequences for the work we are carrying out and which we are so close to completing.  

Should the remaining budget for 2021 not be paid, we anticipate that we will be forced to renounce planned activities scheduled from August to December 2021. Cuts to funding will also limit our potential to finalise the installation and operationalisation of nowcasting at African meteorological services, a critical step in improving early warning and response to high-impact weather events across Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and Senegal.

The African SWIFT Management Team and Principal Investigators, Professor Doug Parker and Professor Alan Blyth, very much regret any consequences that will be endured by the programme and its staff, across Africa and in the UK. As a programme built on equitable partnerships of mutual respect and trust, we are deeply troubled by the damage the UK government’s decision will have on our African partners, and for future overseas work with Africa’s meteorological community.

Jan Polcher, Research Director at the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) and Chair of the African SWIFT Advisory Board said: “The proposed cuts would greatly compromise the impact and success of African SWIFT, and we sincerely hope they can be avoided. New warnings of high impact climate events developed by the SWIFT programme are being used to protect lives and livelihoods, and are on the verge of becoming available to millions more vulnerable people.”

“This work is not complete and critical steps still need to be taken to make the implementation secure, and to roll the solutions out to more countries. The termination of African SWIFT’s work will lead to the unnecessary deaths of African people, and will allow economic hardship to prevail where it could be mitigated.”