Using seasonal forecast information to strengthen resilience and improve food security in West Africa

Climate change has intensified the occurrence of extreme hydroclimatic phenomena such as droughts and floods in West Africa. This greatly affects the main socio-economic sectors such as agriculture and livestock and therefore food security. Forecasts of the characteristics of the rainy season need to be improved to help decision-making in West Africa. Indeed, the seasonal hydrological forecasts as they are produced now only give a qualitative assessment of the rainy season. Users have become increasingly demanding and wish to have more quantitative information on the characteristics of the season (total rainfall, stream flows, etc.). As part of this study, we used seasonal climate forecasts and the HYPE hydrological model to predict some characteristics of the rainy season.

CASE STUDY DESCRIPTION

Issue to be addressed

The rainy season occupies a central place in socio-economic activities in the Sahelian regions, as more than 80% of the population lives on agriculture and livestock. However, extreme hydroclimatic events such as droughts and floods affect these activities. Efforts made in recent years in the production of hydroclimatic information to enhance the resilience of populations have become insufficient, given the variability and climate change.

Decision support to client

The clients, that are the national hydrology departments, received the information produced, mainly the daily, monthly and seasonal cumulative rainfall and the daily, monthly and seasonal streamflow within River Niger basin. These information are usually used to support the decision of dam managers (to better plan dam operations), farmers (to better plan their activities during the rainy season), and society (on the potential risks of floods).

Temporal and spatial scale

This work is focused on seasonal hydrological forecasts. These forecasts covered the Niger River basin, which has an area of 2 170 000 km2. The Niger Basin was subdivided into 803 sub-basins and the information was produced at the scale of these sub-basins.

Knowledge brokering

The AGRHYMET Regional Centre, in collaboration its partners, organizes the PRESAO (Seasonal Forecast over West Africa) forum for the elaboration of seasonal hydrological forecasts in the beginning of May every year. This forum brings together all the national hydrology and meteorological services, basin organizations and the departments in charge of disaster and risk management. The information purveyors therefore have a knowledge of the needs of the clients in terms of information to be provided to them. Interactions with clients at the regional level have been done this year mainly through bulletins (monthly and special bulletins), warning notes and physical meetings.

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AGRHYMET Regional Centre

Poster displayed at the Kick–Off meeting, 7/8 September 2017, Norrköping, Sweden


Floods caused by the Niger River overflow in 2012

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