The AGRHYMET Regional Center is a specialized institution of the Permanent Interstates Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel (CILSS) - AGRHYMET being the acronym of the official French-titled Centre Regional de Formation et d'Application en Agrométéorologie et Hydrologie Opérationnelle.
AGRHYMET works to support food security in member states of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and those that participate in the CILSS. These include Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Ivory Coast, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, Chad and Togo.
As a regional climate center for West Africa, AGRHYMET is specialized in agrometeorological and hydrological monitoring at regional level; agricultural and crop monitoring statistics; development of regional databases; management and dissemination of information on the monitoring of natural resources in the Sahel; maintenance of meteorological instruments and electronic equipment; strengthening inter-State cooperation through the exchange of methodologies and technologies; training of executives from the Sahel countries and beyond.
AICCRA at the AGRHYMET Conference
Organised every two years, the AGRHYMET international conference on climate change in the Sahel gathered more than 200 participants from intergovernmental, bilateral and multilateral organizations together with universities and research centres, civil society, NGOs, producer organizations and the private sector.
It took stock of achievements and needs in terms of research and extension in the field of climate and its impacts on the agricultural sector as well as adaptation and strategies.
It is also seen as a framework for exchanges between the various actors in the field of climate, its impacts and adaptation and mitigation strategies.
Given AICCRA achievements in West Africa and The Sahel region—building on the legacy of the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) — the AICCRA West Africa team was invited to contribute to several important elements of the conference, through which AICCRA research and science were shared and contributed to the outcomes of the conference.
As leader of AICCRA's work in West Africa, I was enrolled as member of the scientific committee of the conference, with a particular role contributing to defining the relevant themes and sub-themes, to foster submissions, review and select promising abstracts for oral and poster presentations.
In addition, AICCRA's West Africa Science Officer Alcade Segnon presented a poster on livelihood vulnerability in Mali.
I was also asked to ‘set the scene’ for the conference through a plenary keynote presentation on actionable solutions to building climate-resilient agriculture and food systems in West Africa and The Sahel.
This was a great opportunity to share CGIAR science and research from across West Africa.
I was also honored to chair and facilitate a session on specific themes with more than ten presentations of relevance to AICCRA. These included:
- The development and operationalization of National Frameworks for Climate Services (NFCS) in West Africa
- The state of the art in Climate Modelling, Climate Information and Services for the West Africa Region;
- The social and institutional determinants of vulnerability and resilience to climate risks in the Sahel, were presented and discussed.
- This allowed us the opportunity to share some inputs and experiences from CGIAR and AICCRA on the above-mentioned conference selected topics, for example on AICCRA achievements in Ethiopia and Senegal on NFCS.
As member of the scientific committee and based on my longstanding research experience in the sub-region, I moderated a panel on the state of climate research in West Africa and The Sahel, with eight panelists from diverse backgrounds and institutions (INRAN, Abdou Mounouni University, WASCAL, AGRHYMET, ACMAD, CIRAD, IRD and ICRISAT).
The different panelists discussed issues relating to priority areas of research on climate change, including gender mainstreaming and mechanisms for effective partnerships. climate data sharing,
Reflections on Inclusive Research and Policy
As moderator, I shared CGIAR and AICCRA research experiences on fostering science-policy interactions from countries. At the national level, this included setting up the science-policy dialogue platforms in Senegal, Niger, Mali, Ghana and Burkina Faso, while at the regional level this involved technical backstopping to ECOWAS for the creation of the West Africa CSA Alliance.
The above contributions from AICCRA have undoubtedly contributed to the success of the conference, which concluded with key messages and recommendations (available in French) to serve as a road map for demand-driven research on climate change in West Africa and the Sahel.
One of the innovative achievements of the conference was the recommendation to adopt an inclusive approach in climate change research and promote interactions between physical and social sciences. This approach can occur through the capitalization of cultural knowledge in different models and the contribution of communication specialists on local knowledge; This emphasizes the need for new research partnerships that go beyond the climate science to integrate other important social dimensions such as communication and social learning.
To this end, an integrated regional climate research framework for West Africa was discussed, and a scientific and technical advisory panel on climate change was proposed to be a sort of IPCC for West Africa and Sahel. The conference also recommended prioritizing actions that maximize synergies between adaptation, mitigation, food production and sustainable development at country level while strengthening the research and policy interface so that decision-makers give greater priority to research and its funding. A “Niamey call“ strongly advocated for support of the operationalization of the Climate Commission for the Sahel, whose mandate is to carry out for i) climate diplomacy; ii) advocacy; iii) mobilization of financial resources to benefit the Sahel region.
Dr. Robert Zougmoré is the West Africa Lead for Accelerating Impacts of CGIAR Climate Research for Africa (AICCRA). Dr. Zougmoré is an agronomist and soil scientist with a PhD in Production Ecology & Resources Conservation.