Senegal has signalled top-level political support to scale up climate services and integrate climate information into national development planning.
"You can count on Senegal to serve as a champion of climate services in the region,” said Mr. Djari Ndiaye, chief of staff of the country’s Prime Minister. “It took us some time to integrate these questions, but from now the whole government of Senegal will take account of climate information into our development plans," he said.
The assurances were given at a meeting with a delegation from the Global Framework for Climate Services regional coordination in Dakar composed of the head of Senegal's national meteorological service, and representatives of the Norwegian Refugee Council (which is supporting the programme), and the Food and Agriculture Organization. This bodes well for the implementation of Senegal's national framework for climate services, due to begin next month at a launch event under the aegis of the Prime Minister, his excellency Mr Mahammad Boune Abdallah Dionne.
The aim is to establish coordination mechanisms needed to be implemented in the country to link the various actors working on climate services and bring together needed national stakeholders to craft together a solid national framework for developing, communicating and action climate information and science.
In Senegal, 12 ministries deal with the issue of climate change, and the imperative to adapt. These ministerial departments span priority climate-sensitive sectors such as farming, fisheries, water resources management, disaster risk management, energy and health. In these sectors, economic growth, public investments, livelihoods and popular well being hinge on the occurrence or not of extreme events such as heavy floods or sudden dry spells during the rainy season. They also include cross-cutting 'enabling' ministries important for climate services delivery at large scale to farmers and vulnerable communities, such as telecommunications, decentralization and foreign affairs.
There is a need for coordination among the different institutional stakeholders working on climate services at national level to link climate knowledge systematically to planning, early action and preparedness by sectoral planners and vulnerable communities alike.
In Senegal, as is the case in most other countries in the Sahel, a number of initiatives already work to provide pilot scale climate services.
In Kaffrine for example, a locality in the central arid peanut basin region of Senegal, ANACIM provides agro-advisories for farmers to advise them on optimal planting dates, the outlook for the season and other related advice for planting, working hand in hand with the technical experts from the national agricultural research and extension service.
Another pilot project funded by USAID delivers SMS warnings and public advisories to fishermen alerting them of danger at sea when a strong wind event is forecast, reducing the number of lives lost from accidents at sea in this important sector for the country's development.
Such pilot initiatives need to now be scaled up, to reach all vulnerable farmer and fisher folks across the country, and across the crisis-prone region of the Sahel, and safeguard fragile development gains and livelihoods from impacts of rising climate risks under a changing climate.