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

Food security and flood risk assessment in West Africa needs improvement to account for the strong climate variability and projected change in the region. This can be helped by using seasonal hydro-meteorological forecasting products. The current seasonal forecasts can be improved to better meet user needs, thus regional in-situ data, model adaptation and end-users activities will be used to tailor forecasting products, and support decision-making. 


Issue to be addressed

The objective of this case study is to improve seasonal forecasts used for food security in the Sahelian region and to contribute to flood risk assessment at seasonal level. Despite efforts made over the last 20 years by the AGRHYMET Regional Centre and its partners, seasonal forecasts developed are becoming less useful because they are purely probabilistic and not deterministic. They no longer sufficiently meet the needs of users, who need decision-support products to strengthen the resilience of food production and flood risk assessments.

Decision support to client

The clients have identified that they need higher accuracy in seasonal forecasts in West Africa to support decision making. These will assist farmers to better plan their food production activities during the rainy season, and will help dam managers to better plan dam operations. Improved seasonal forecasts will also better inform decision makers about the likely characteristics of the coming rainy season, so they can be better prepared and make contingency plans if needed.

Temporal and spatial scale

The work focuses on seasonal hydrological forecasts which is one of the principal activities of the AGRHYMET Regional Centre. Thus, the products will be developed before the beginning of the rainy season each year (April). These forecasts will cover the Niger River basin, which has an area of 2 170 000 million km2.

Knowledge brokering

The AGRHYMET Regional Centre, in collaboration with ACMAD, organizes the PRESAO forum for the elaboration of seasonal hydrological forecasts in the beginning of May every year. This forum will be used for knowledge brokerage as it brings together all the national hydrology and meteorological services, basin organizations and the departments in charge of disaster and risk management. These services, after the elaboration of the products, ensure the relay in their respective countries to the end users through newsletters, field missions and community radio stations. This forum also serves as a opportunity where technical services representing different countries present the needs of end-users to be taken into account in the development of products. Some customers are also invited to participate frequently in the forum to show how the products developed are useful and how they can be improved to meet their needs. Dissemination of information at the regional level is done through bulletins (monthly and special bulletins), warning notes.

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