Improving Climate Services for Increased Resilience in Niger and Senegal

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

By Moussa Labo1, Mariane Diop Kane2, Filipe Lucio3 and Veronica Grasso

The project “Improving Climate Services for Increased Resilience in the Sahel” was developed by the Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS) Office and implemented in Niger and Senegal from June 2016 to August 2018 with funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Several useful products were developed to better serve the user communities in the two countries and to assist in establishing Frameworks for Climate Services as coordination mechanisms at the institutional level.

Climate Risks in Niger and Senegal

In Niger the main climate risks are droughts; torrential rains, which are often accompanied by high winds; flooding (often due to intensive rain, causing flash floods); sandstorms and/or dust; high temperature/heat waves, harmful insects (such as locust invasions), and bush fires. Of these, the major risks in terms of frequency and magnitude of impacts remain droughts and floods. There has also been an increase of heat waves in recent years. From 1976 to 2010, the maximum temperature increased by 1.7°C and the minimum temperature by 2.4°C4. The most affected sectors by such climate change are agriculture, livestock, forestry, water resources, health, transportation, fishing and wildlife. 

In Senegal, average temperatures have continued increasing for the entire territory, with 1.1 to 1.8 °C higher temperatures in the Southeast area than the Northern and Central areas, and a decrease in rainfall. Increased weather extremes in the future are expected5. Climate change has become a reality, and its effects on the different sectors of the national economy are a major issue for the development of the country. It is manifested by an exacerbation of the climate variability and extreme weather events. For the sustainable development of these sectors, it is necessary to incorporate climate change projections in their planning. Thus, various initiatives have been developed to further understand the implications of climate variability. 

Improving Climate Services in Niger

The National Directorate for Meteorology in Niger DMN) is responsible for climate services in Niger. They provide daily weather information and climate predictions. Other main actors who contribute to the chain of climate services include:

  • Technical partners/ministry partners (agriculture, livestock, water, civil protection, disaster management, health, energy, transport, infrastructure) - co-producers of climate services.
  • Large-scale communicators of climate services from the interaction between producers and industry partners associations of communicators, public press, radio and other rural partners in the large-scale communication of climate services.
  • End users: policy makers, planners and vulnerable populations (farmers and producers).

To improve the user-provider coordination needed to effectively deliver climate services, the National Framework for Climate Services was officially launched in Niamey on 31 May 2017, with 127 participants from government institutions, national parliamentarians, cooperation agencies and UN agencies, civil society, the private sector, and farmers' organizations. Contextual User Interface Platforms (UIPs) were defined to begin the operational delivery of user-tailored climate services in Niger in the form of expanded Groupes de Travail Pluridisciplinaires (GTPs). Five thematic GTPs were established for each climate sensitive sector: agriculture, disaster risk reduction, water, health, transportation/infrastructure/energy).

DMN organized eighteen workshops/meetings and published 30 publications/reports in the project. Workshops focused on data management, rescue and information dissemination; media training; establishing partnerships at national level to improve implementation;

Pilot projects were implemented to demonstrate the value of climate services in climate-sensitive sectors in Niger. One project implemented early warning systems by SMS to three rural communities in Niger: Bonkoukou, Birni Ngaoure and Niamey 5 for a pilot phase of four months from February to May 2018.  This activity was undertaken by DMN in collaboration with the Directorate of Surveillance and Response to the Epidemics (DSRE) of Niger. Early warnings were issued through SMS to provide climatic information to the rural communities for use in crop cultivation and in monitoring Meningitis.  The service reached rural communities in 75 villages.

DMN also regularly issued flyers for the user communities. For example, a flyer was issued on 18 June 2018 on the seasonal forecast of rainfall during the period July to September 2018 in Niger (Figure 1).  As the maximum rainfall is received during the month of August, a flyer was issued early in the morning on 16 August 2018 showing the level of rainfall that is expected during 16 to 18 August in different regions in Niger (Figure 2).  The flyer provided advice on the strategies that need to be followed given the expected rainfall in the different regions.


Figure 1. Cover page of the Flyer issued on 18 June 2018 on the seasonal forecast of rainfall during the period July to September 2018


Figure 2. Cover page of flyer issued on 16 August 2018 on the level of rainfall that is expected to be received during 16 to 18 August in different regions in Niger

As part of the NFCS, the Climate and Water Resources group developed and disseminated two bulletins on the subject of Climate and Water Resources on 19 March 2018 and 29 April 2018. These bulletins provided information on the following important issues: monitoring of the river Niger in Niamey; the climatological situation in different months; and the meteorological and agrometeorological situation in the Niamey region.  Mr Housseini Ibrahim Mohamed, Director of Hydrology of Niger expressed his appreciation to the representatives from eight different agencies/ministries for their active participation in presenting this information and said, Based on the data and maps presented on these important issues, a range of advices were issued to the different communities such as rural marketers, cultivators of irrigated rice and livestock herders”.

Important activities were undertaken by the multi-disciplinary working group on climate and health in the project in which seven agencies in Niger participated.  Six meetings of this working group were organized between February 2017 and May 2018 and a first bulletin was issued for the year 2017 followed by six bulletins issued in 2018 from January to March 2018.  In each of these bulletins, the information covered included the general context; the meteorological situation; the surveillance on the epidemiology of Meningitis; the surveillance on the bacteriologie of Meningtitis; and the key messages to the communities.

The project helped develop good collaboration between the Department of Agriculture and the DMN. The Department of Agriculture is trying to assist the 255 communes in the rural areas to enhance agricultural production by providing them appropriate climate information.  The working group on climate-agriculture and food security of the NFCS in the project issued two bulletins in which the seasonal climate prediction issued by DMN was taken into account. In the second bulletin issued on 8 May 2018, a map displayed the rainfall forecast for July to September 2018. The forecast showed that the cumulative rainfall in the regions of Tillabery, Niamey, Dosso, Tahoua and Maradi could be above normal, while it could be normal rainfall in the regions of Zinder and Diffa.  The bulletin also showed the probabilities of the beginning and end of the rainy seasons and the forecasting of sequences of dry weather in the first half and the second half of the season. The bulletin provided advice to the rural communities for their field operations. 

The working group on disaster risk reduction in the project published the first bulletin on early warning systems in the beginning of May 2018. Based on the feedback received, a second bulletin was prepared in June 2018. Mme Ousseini Mariama Gnandou, the Coordinator of the Coordination Cell of the Early Warning Systems (CC/SAP) in the Cabinet of the Prime Minister said, “The generation of early warning systems by DMN is very important and is helping us to disseminate this information by our Coordination Cell to the communities in different regions of Niger.” 

The Department of Information in the Ministry of Transport organized an open day in which 45 journalists in Niger participated. All the TV journalists and radio journalists were also represented in the meeting. There are 184 radio communitaires in Niger and 160 of them are functioning.  In this project, 43 radio communitaires were trained in climate change adaptation for 3 to 4 days in March 2018.  The TV communicators also disseminated information on weather and climate twice each day ie., at 1300 hrs and 2030 hrs on Tele Sahel.  A communications strategy for climate services was prepared and published in December 2017. The Department of Communications Media is satisfied with the collaboration with DMN for communicating weather and climate information.

Improving Climate Services in Senegal

The National Agency for Civil Aviation and Meteorology of Senegal (ANACIM) is the main provider of meteorological data in Senegal. The institution is responsible for the observation and monitoring of weather and climate variables, data archiving, production of weather and climate products at different scales and research and development within the field. Data from the national observation network are archived at the meteorological database of ANACIM and used for various applications and climate studies. The data are essential for studies on climate change and its impacts, thus requiring long data series. The data are also useful for the calibration of indirect measures such as Satellite and Radar.

The National Action Plan for Climate Services (NFCS) of Senegal was endorsed in April 2016 in Dakar, before the country’s national authorities and government representatives from across all of the country’s climate-sensitive sectors. The NFCS was developed through a process of consultation and stakeholder engagement, ensuring participation of all national stakeholders with a role in the national chain for climate services as well as alignment with national adaptation priorities and policies. In particular, there is a focus on climate services to aid the following five GFCS priority areas: agriculture and food security, disaster risk reduction, water, health and energy. National stakeholders in Senegal identified an additional climate-sensitive sector of Tourism which has been added as a priority user sector for climate services delivery.

Two end-users platforms were established in Senegal: the National Climate Outlook Forum (NCOF) and the Multidisciplinary Working Group (GTP). The NCOF brought together sectoral representatives to discuss the annual seasonal forecast for the country and their Implications at the sectoral level in order to make appropriate recommendations. The GTP is a Multidisciplinary Working Group on the monitoring of the agricultural season for early warning purposes. It has been enlarged to the health sector, journalists and communities. Two additional GTP sectors on health and DRR were also established.

As part of the project, six workshops/meetings were organized by ANACIM from May 2017 to May and 18 publications/reports were issued so far in the project. The workshops focused on capacity development in media training; data management and rescue; climate diagnostics, monitoring and forecasting; and product development including calibrating and tailoring.

To enhance institutional capacity, a national workshop to validate the strategic plan for meteorology in Senegal was organized. A publication on the national action plan for putting the NCFS in place in Senegal was issued.

The GTP met every 10 days for a total of fifteen meetings during the rainy season in 2017, between June and October.  The General Directorate for the Planification and Management of Water Resources (DGPRE), which manages a network of nearly one hundred (100) Hydrometric stations distributed between the basins of the Senegal River, the Gambia River, Casamance, the Kayanga, Sine Saloum and the small coastal basins, provided information on the status of runoff in the main riversEvery meeting of the GTP was followed by the production of a bulletin, which was largely shared with national and local stakeholders, through the Meteorological service network. For example, the cumulative rainfall in Senegal till 28 August 2018 is shown in Figure 3.


Figure 3. Cumulative rainfall in Senegal unti 28 August 2018

Mr Maguèye Marame Ndao, Director General of ANACIM said, “ANACIM organizes and operates meteorology in all its fields of application in accordance with the recommendations of WMO and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and I appreciate the activities undertaken in the project to assist several sectors in Senegal.” 

The Agriculture Directorate in the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Equipment found the seasonal climate forecasts important for generating food production trends and identifying risks faced by rural communities. The Agricultural Directorate is communicating well with ANACIM in this matter and participates actively in the work of the GTP in the project.  Mr Oumar Sane, Director of the Agriculture Directorate said, “As agriculture in Senegal employs around 75 per cent of the working population and comprises 17 % of GDP, the seasonal climate forecasts are important for them to generate food production trends and identify the risks that the rural communities face.”  

The Office for the Management of pastoral information in the Directorate for Livestock (DIREL), which participated in the GTP meetings, found that the bulletins produced are quite useful to the livestock holders. There are 18 zones of fisheries in Senegal and in each zone, a representative receives these bulletins that provide climate forecasts. The National Agency for Renewable Energy (ANER) in Senegal needs data on solar radiation and they are satisfied with the information currently available from the project. The Directorate of Civil Protection (DPC), in Senegal, which requires advanced meteorological information to help the civil communities, expressed its satisfaction with the information provided by ANACIM.

The office of the National Early Warning System (SAP), which is coordinated by the Executive secretariat of the National Food Security Council (SECNSA), is primarily responsible for collecting, processing, analyzing and publishing information on the food status of Senegalese populations. SAP office is pleased with the GTP bulletins issued in the project with lot of information and they find the bulletins quite useful.  The decadal forecasts on rainfall serve the needs of SECNSA.  The food security issue in Senegal is now being handled in a much better way, than before.

Recommendations for the Future

The provision of improved climate services for increased resilience in Niger and Senegal requires more time, such as another five years, so that the communities in the different regions in the two countries become more familiar with managing risks and coping with climate-related hazards. To increase the likelihood of sustainability, it will be useful to implement a second phase of the project for another five years, from 2019 to 2023, in the two countries. It is recommended that prompt actions be taken by different government departments in issuing early warning messages and in using appropriate information and communication technology strategies to disseminate information to and obtain regular feedback from different user communities.  It is recommended that, should a next phase of this project be implemented, steps be taken to recruit the technical staff needed to promote better climate services. Observing capabilities in the two countries should be developed further to better deliver climate and related services, meeting the needs and requirements of the user communities.  On the technical side, one of major gaps is the lack of use of dynamic climate models both at the national level.  Hence the use of dynamic climate models should be implemented in the next phase of this project. 

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1 Director General, National Directorate for Meteorology in Niger (DMN)
2 Director of Meteorology, National Agency for Civil Aviation and Meteorology of Senegal (ANACIM)
3 Director, Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS), World Meteorological Organization (WMO)
4 N’Diaye Aissatou, Adamou Rabani, Gueye Moussa and Diedhiou Arona. 2017. Global warming and heat waves in West Africa: Impacts on electricity consumption in Dakar (Senegal) and Niamey (Niger). International Journal of Energy and Environmental Science 2:16-26.
5 Ibid.

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