In recent decades, rainfall variability in West Africa has been more extreme than in most other regions of the world. This has had a negative impact on a number of sectors, including food security and water resources. Climate forecasts for the 21st century show that climate variability is likely to be even greater in the future. Better access to reliable climate information could help Senegal successfully adapt to climate change in a number of sectors. For example, it could help engineers design appropriate water management infrastructure and avoid adopting strategies that will be obsolete in a few years. It could also help farmers make decisions on better agricultural practices or even help them to find better grazing land for their cattle.
However, these data are often difficult to find. At the same time, confidence is lacking and this information is not widely used in decision-making processes owing to several obstacles: the use of climate data requires advanced IT skills and climate expertise, as well as the ability to take account of the needs of local users. The project sets out a four-stage process to remove these obstacles and make data useable by local stakeholders: (i) establish a dialogue with the stakeholders concerned, (ii) develop methodologies to use climate and impact models, (iii) demonstrate the added value of climate risk management and (iv) conduct capacity building and training activities. The two main ideas are to (a) focus on the needs of local users from the start and (b) demonstrate the added value of the portal at the end of the project in order to convince the national authorities to continue financing it. Although the methodology can be applied to many regions, the project will be conducted in Senegal, which is one of the pilot countries in West Africa for the GFCS (Global Framework for Climate Services), a cooperation programme set up to help countries adapt to climate change. InfraCLIM Senegal will consolidate the measures taken in Senegal to adapt to global warming. It may also be used as a demonstrator for duplication in other countries.
Although the scientific community working in the climate and environmental field produces huge amounts of data (real-time monitoring, forecasts, scenarios) that could be highly useful in decision-support for a country of the size of Senegal, the necessary data are often difficult to use in decision-making processes (diversity of products, incompatible scales, incomprehensible formats, bias), since they require advanced IT skills as well as scientific expertise. This shows a clear need for operational tools and practices making it possible to display and download these data, as well as to build the capacity to interpret and use the data. The project aims to build a portal providing high-quality climate and environmental data, tailored to user needs, alongside capacity building and training activities.
The project is based on environment and climate observation data (rainfall, temperature, vegetation, land use) in relation with Data-Terra infrastructure and the Theia and Aeris platforms. It is also based on the output of climate models for short- and medium-term forecasts as well as for the CMIP5 and CMIP6 weather scenarios available through the ESPRI, which is one of the four data centres making up AERIS, the French portal of data and services for the atmosphere.