Climate Change Senegal: “Think Globally, Act Locally”

Published: July 1, 2019

May stands for Intercambio – at least in the little HORIZONT3000 Universe. 2019 was no exception. All of the Regional and Country Office directors, representatives from our Member Organisations as well as the HORIZONT3000 Vienna team got together to review last year’s plans and achievements and to discuss results, new developments and strategies.

During a small break between meetings and workshops I got the lucky chance to talk to our dear colleague Ismael Ndao, Country Director Senegal. I was curious to learn more about the history of the successful Community of Practice in Senegal “Changement Climatique” that he is very actively involved in.

Ismael told me about its early stages, transformation, plans for the future, challenges and biggest achievements and about how it outgrew its CoP frame and turned into something bigger.

Interview with Ismael Ndao, Country Director Senegal


Ismael Ndao, Country Director Senegal

In order to set off, could you tell us more about how it all started? What motivated the creation of the Community of Practice “Changement Climatique”?

It all started about four years ago. Back then we noticed harsh impacts on agriculture, quality of life, harvests and environment that all related back to climate change. One day, we came together during a workshop with all of the Partners and project teams that work with climate change and watched the documentary Home – which I highly recommend by the way.

It is like an awareness campaign about the effects of climate change on our planet and aired in more than 30 countries. In one part it talks about Senegal. So in the end of the workshop, it was clear to all of us that we needed not only a workshop, but rather a network beyond our partnership with the University of Dakar to fight climate change. That’s how the Community of Practice came to be.


The past four years have been quite busy for the CoP. Where does it stand now?

We have founded an officially registered network and currently collaborate with two commissions: one scientific commission and one commission for communication and partnership. We have already organised six workshops, where we – among other things – defined the role and expectations of each of the commissions and set some standards for collaboration. There is also an executive committee for the network that is in charge of monitoring processes and keeping track of our progress.

With the network we were able to collect and share information on climate change from every region in the country. Each year we share season forecasts to answer questions like: Will there be a lot of or very little rain during the period of rain, what can be expected and what do people have to prepare for? That way the producers are able to make effective decisions on which seeds to use and which farming methods to apply.

Another task of the scientific commission is to update the network on economical issues of climate change. They also keep track of governmental decisions about climate change and check whether they meet fixed deadlines and principles. Besides, it evaluates the governmental recommendations on climate change and their priorities. In the scope of this scientific commission we directly work together with the Department for Environment of the University of Dakar. The government has also published a national guideline for climate change, so with the commission we analyse its conformance. That makes the work easier, as we can use the plan for points of reference.


Do you happen to know how many members the platform counts? And how many beneficiaries there are?

We have about 500 members that represent the commissions and the local producers. Regarding the beneficiaries it is a bit difficult to know. The country consists of 14 different regions. Six of them make up our direct target groups.

In order to expand our reach and spread our information we also use Radio Channels and TV programmes on climate change – so there are a lot of beneficiaries (laughs).


What is the platform currently dealing with?

This year, for the first time we have an Exchange Visit planned between producers from different regions of the intervention programme. The goal is to exchange knowledge on farming methods, seeds and where to find which kinds of seeds.


What are you personally most proud of? What is the biggest achievement of the platform?

Personally speaking, the fact that we have managed to build this platform, this alliance, is already something to be proud of. From the very beginning it was so important for me to work together on these issues – environment and climate change – and to motivate people to join the cause.

What is most difficult to accept is that the network doesn’t move very fast. Everything takes quite some time. Also creating relationships with other networks in Senegal poses a challenge – for instance taking actions together is always bound to delays. The most common excuse is the absence of sufficient funding. So budget issues are something we constantly have to deal with. But still we have managed to make it work and we will keep working on it and improving.

We have created an annual plan for each commission and region that prioritises the actions we have to take. So that shows us the way. By the end of 2019, we are planning experience capitalisations of good practices that were applied on a local level throughout the year.


Is there anything you would like to add?

I want to highlight that working together on climate change is the most important thing. You can’t manage it by yourself.

In January, I took part in an international workshop on climate change in Dakar. There are a lot of great measures and concepts out there. But what we really need to fight climate change is a well functioning network – in the region, but also world wide.

As I always say: We have to think globally and act locally.

Sarah Fichtinger

Sarah Fichtinger

Sarah is part of the Knowledge Management Team in Vienna and in charge of the KNOW-HOW3000 platform. She is eager to provide all the tools the KNOW-HOW3000 community hopes to find on the internet platform. So if you have any requests, questions, recommendations or comments regarding the platform, please get in touch with her. She is always happy to hear from you.

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