CCAFS-WASCAL: a winning collaboration for better adaptation to climate change in West Africa

To support vulnerable communities to adapt to climate change, we need to take collective action.

Forming partnerships is crucial  to promote climate-smart solutions that can deliver food security and improve climate change adaptation and mitigation. Pursuant to this mission, the West African Science Service Centre on Climate Change and Adapted Land Use (WASCAL) has been a strategic partner for the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) West Africa Program since 2014.

Sharing common goals and mission, CCAFS and WASCAL jointly organized a science symposium from 19 to 21 June 2018 in Accra, Ghana, to showcase their achievements in climate change research and their contributions to climate and environmental services. The symposium gathered more than 200 participants from the academia, public-sector and private-sector institutions, as well as governmental and non-governmental organizations within and outside West Africa. 

CCAFS contributed to the event by delivering a presentation on the importance of integrated climate services in achieving food security (1) and on strategies to scale demand-driven climate and environmental services in West Africa (2). During a special session dedicated to CCAFS’s work five different case studies on climate information services (CIS) and related approaches were presented and discussed.

A CCAFS special session dedicated to climate information services

The case studies presented at the symposium were based on projects implemented by CCAFS and its partners in Ghana, Senegal, Mali and Burkina Faso and highlighted experiences on doing action research on climate-smart agriculture (CSA) in the field through various approaches and tools. 

At the special session, Dr. Issa Ouedraogo, Scientist for CCAFS and Project Coordinator of the Climate Information Services for increased resilience and productivity in Senegal (CINSERE) explained how CIS are delivered to and utilised by users, such as farmers and fishermen, and highlighted the positive impact of CIS use on yields. He also discussed the importance of rural radio, SMS and Internet as the most efficient CIS communication channels. He noted some remaining challenges, such as the lack of financial resources and insufficient technical capacity required to produce proper CIS and he recommended the use of participatory approaches for engaging farmers in the CIS uptake.

Dr. Ndeye Seynabou Diouf, Scientist for CCAFS, pointed to a study developed in the framework of the CINSERE project that demonstrates how climate change affects men and women differently: whilst women make up 60% of the labor force, they have limited access to key assets, information, and input. It also shows how other factors than gender can affect access to CIS such as education, ethnicity, locality, and perception of climate change. For example, literacy increases access to CIS (specifically for SMS) and native women are more inclined to use CIS. Dr. Diouf highlighted the need to develop tailored CIS that meet the needs of both men and women. She also noted the importance of training farmers to understand the negative effects of climate change and the role of the community radio in disseminating information.

The symposium gathered more than 200 participants from diverse sectors. Photo: WASCAL

Dr. Samuel T. Partey, Regional Science Officer for CCAFS, demonstrated how a public-private partnership (PPP) project boosted the uptake of CIS among farmers in Northern Ghana. He also discussed the crucial steps needed for designing and implementing a PPP model for disseminating CIS. Questions raised following the presentation have focused on a better inclusion of financial service providers, agricultural insurance providers as well as farm input dealers. Participants also asked for more evidence on cost implications, drivers and critical factors of risks and success of the tested public-private partnership.

Dr. Djibril S. Dayamba, Postdoctoral Fellow at the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), presented information on the Participative Integrated Climate Services For Agriculture (PICSA) as a tool to help farmers better understand the impact of climate change on their close environment while providing them with options-by-context to minimize the effects. The project was implemented in various villages in the Mopti region in Mali and the Kaffrine region in Senegal. Dr. Dayamba explained that farmers of all the villages found the approach very useful, even if main challenges remain in downsizing extension services and missing historical climate records. In the follow-up discussions concern was raised about the lack of elaboration of a synthesis and guidelines that can be used by trainers to take the project beyond the sites. 

Dr. Mathieu Ouédraogo, Scientist for CCAFS, presented a study that assessed farmers’ willingness to pay for CIS in Northern Burkina Faso and analysed the variations. The study also provided information on the type of CIS to prioritise in the area and the most important dissemination channels and some future cost implications. He argued that the results of the study should support policy makers to prepare the most appropriate mechanisms for the dissemination of climate information in order to improve the adaptive capacity of farmers in Northern Ghana.

It will be crucial in the future to continue such initiatives. Climate risk management through the improved use of climate information services can pave the way for reduced vulnerability and improved livelihoods in West Africa.

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