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AMMA-2050 presents their ground-breaking findings on climate change in West Africa to key stakeholders in Senegal at final annual meeting

AMMA-2050 researchers and stakeholders at the annual meeting in Senegal 2019

 

The AMMA-2050 (African Monsoon Multi-disciplinary Analysis-2050) research group met for their final annual meeting in Senegal from 10 – 14 June attended by researchers from West Africa, UK, and France. Chris Taylor (Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, UK) the lead of AMMA-2050 opened the meeting by encouraging everyone present to take advantage of this final opportunity to discuss, share and think about the research from individual streams of their work and to solidify the key messages of AMMA-2050 as a whole.

One of the key climate science messages AMMA-2050 shared was that the Sahel will continue to get hotter particularly in the pre-monsoon months and that rain storms are becoming more intense. The frequency of intense Sahelian storms having tripled in 35 years and storm intensity is expected to increase in the future. The impacts of these changes are resulting in the increased peak flows of rivers and increased urban flash flooding illustrating the need to adapt through better planning and design of infrastructure. For example a flooding database has been developed in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso to better understand flooding within the city and to help inform planning. Solimane Hamed Ouattara (Ministry of Urbanisation and Habitat, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso) emphasised that, “The flooding database AMMA-2050 developed is a god-send and we are grateful. It will better guide decision-making of our cities.”

The key results on agriculture indicate that; climate change is significantly reducing the yields of main staple crops. More losses of sorghum, millet and maize are expected in the warmer scenariosof 2050 and adaptation strategies are required to mitigate this impact on food security in particular.  Adding to this, research from AMMA-2050 has demonstrated that the soil eco-systems are vulnerable to the increased warming. Dr Mbaye Diop (Agroclimatologist at ISRA and AMMA external board member) emphasised the impact of agriculture and food security, “Climate change is a major constraint to achieving the Sustainable Development Goal of Zero Hunger as intense flooding and repeated droughts expose the agricultural sector. We need to produce more but also better – respecting the environment.” An online Climate Portal was presented that has been developed through AMMA-2050 by Benjamin Sultan (French Research Institute for Development (IRD)) to provide an interactive tool for users to identify the climate impacts on crops such as sorghum, millet and maize in Senegal. This Portal has potential to influence policy makers and help farmers within the region by providing salient information that is appropriate for their decision-making.

The meeting provided a platform for stakeholder engagement to share key messages with decision-makers, parliamentarians, and other dignitaries from governments in West Africa, enabling the opportunity to influence policy. Scarlett Zonga (Technical Advisor to Mayor of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso) commended AMMA-2050, “tools developed enable capacity building and decision-making and help us to make risk management and response prevention plansWe want to carry on the exchange and help to promote these outcomes so the population is cognisant of the findings. We need to mitigate the vulnerability of Ouaga together.”

Stakeholders discussing the key results from AMMA-2050 research

 

Other key points raised by stakeholders were that, “We need to work closely with local authorities,” explained Omar Ba (Mayor’s Association representative) and “We need real political will. Need to put pressure on the state in order to have a sustainable result – need to work for the future,” explained Demba Samba Ndiaye (MP for diaspora in Paris, Member of REPES, Network of Parliamentarians for Environment), “happy with workshop, we have learnt a lot.” Solimane Hamed Ouattara (Ministry of Urbanisation and Habitat, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso) said, “elements of AMMA-2050 are interesting for us, as it will help us to appropriately organise the main planning of Burkina Faso to help enhance and manage water bodies.”

Various approaches such as; participatory modelling, plateau games, and theatre forum have been used by AMMA-2050 to communicate climate related risks to multiple stakeholders.  At the meeting, members of the audience were divided into groups to firstly observe and then participate in a theatre forum production. The story involved the perspectives of multiple stakeholders in the agriculture sector, from a farmer to international donor. First, professional performers acted out a scenario while the audience listened to the story, which revolved around adapting to the impacts of climate on agriculture. The groups were then asked to discuss two changes they would make to the play so that it would have a better outcome and participants from the audience were then asked to go up on stage and act out their changes by replacing any of the characters. This active interaction allowed for a lot of discussion and learning from all stakeholders in sharing their perspectives and innovative climate solutions.

Stakeholders participate in the theatre forum

 

Capacity development of young researchers has been a focal point of AMMA-2050 and in this final meeting opportunity was given to the Early Career Researchers (ECRs) to share their findings and experience of skills development throughout their involvement in the project. Bamba Adama (University Félix Houphouët-Boigny, Ivory Coast)explained, “I had training with coding in Python at Leeds. It was the first time working with Python, and today I can use Python to do what I want. Future Climate for Africa has increased my computational skills, interpretation, and allowed for collaboration between myself and the senior researchers.” Siny Ndoye (Laboratory of the Atmosphere and Ocean (LPAO-SF), Senegal)who has worked on the Innovation Fund Project on the Southern Canary Upwelling System explained that he has benefited by going on training on prediction of metrics for climate change and through the participation in the annual meetings and has grown skills that allowed him to present his work at an United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization(UNESCO) meeting.

The final aspect of the meeting focussed on the legacy and future opportunities available going forward for AMMA-2050.  Dave Adukpo (University of Cape Coast, Ghana) noted in closing, “words cannot express how successful this final meeting has been. There wouldn’t have been any other better way of ending a successful project as AMMA-2050 than what has happened here in Senegal. Great lessons learnt, great team work, atmosphere of cross fertilisation of great ideas and minds.”

Part of the AMMA-2050 research group visited the Climate Smart Village in Kaffrine, Senegal to learn about the village’s adoption of climate smart agricultural practices

 

Lastly, Tanya Warnaars (Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, UK) closed the meeting by reflecting, “that through the last 4 years we have done a lot of work and this week has shown that we have been able to demonstrate the learning and bringing together of all disciplines. An example is seeing our work being used in the National Adaptation plans. AMMA-2050 research is a huge achievement that we should be proud of and we only got this far by doing it together.”

African Monsoon Multidisciplinary Analysis (AMMA-2050) aims to address the challenges of understanding how the monsoon will change in future decades, to 2050, and how this information can be most effectively used to support climate-compatible development in the region.

This article was written by Beth Mackay (Knowledge Manager, Future Climate for Africa).