2.2.1. Needs Assessments and End-User Engagement
The need assessment for relevant CIS and CIS dissemination channels was done in April 2016 through a three-day stakeholder consultation workshop gathering 75 people and interviews with 25 key resources persons. The purpose of the stakeholder consultation was to give to the various categories of stakeholders the opportunity to think about what climate information would be useful to inform the decision-making for their activities. Participants included people from different backgrounds, institutions and localities such as lead farmers, pastoralists, fishermen, technicians from the ministries of relevance (agriculture, animal husbandry, fisheries), experts from the meteorological office and from relevant non-governmental organization and technicians from communication services (community radios, televisions, phone companies, etc.). Participants were split into three groups, the first focused on agriculture, the second on the livestock sector and the third on the fisheries sector. Each group was asked to identify what climate information could usefully contribute to more robust planning and decision-making in the context of climate variability and change, and thus to produce a list of information needed and to identify relevant diffusion channels that enable timely access to CIS by users. The spatial and temporal resolution of each identified CIS as well as the coverage scale of the diffusion channels, the strengths and weaknesses of the identified CIS and channel were examined. The interviews concerned key respondents such as technicians in charge of climate data management and CIS production, experts from the crop production, livestock, and fisheries sub-sectors; directors of the community radios and experts from the mobile phone companies to find out the relevance and the feasibility of the CIS and communication channels been identified.
Three different tools were used to stimulate the engagement of the producers and the local authorities in the adoption of CIS: (1) the creation of 27 multi-disciplinary working groups (MWGs); (2) 27 participatory training workshops with the producers; and (3) the implementation of the field demonstration with controlled CIS use by 62 lead-farmers.
The multi-disciplinary working group (MWG) was an initiative of the Agro-Hydro-Meteorology (Agrhymet for the Sahel) national committee and constitutes a decisive and inclusive tool for CIS development, diffusion and uptake at the district scale. Members of MWGs include all relevant state extension technical services and relevant local organizations within the districts. The mission of the MWG is to ensure the close monitoring of the climate phenomena and to alert timely, competent structures in order to prevent potential risks. Services in charge of water resources, agriculture, forestry, the medias and the producers’ organizations are involved in the MWGs’ activities and meetings. They receive meteorological information such as the seasonal, weekly and instant forecasts from the meteorological office and tailor the information using the updates from the actual ground reality with regards to the areas of competency of each participating service. They meet three times a month during the cropping season to discuss and take action for better planning of the farming activities within the district for the next 10-day period. Each MWG should have a legal status and be led by the Prefect of the district.
The participative training workshop approach was initiated during the study period. It was used to train the lead-farmers in order to break the gap between the CIS producers and the users, to build trust for successful climate risk management and to optimize the efficiency of the uptake of the CIS being diffused. In the agricultural sector, the training modules consisted of climate change (adaptation and mitigation), the indigenous seasonal forecast, scientific seasonal forecast, the diffusion of CIS and the use and maintenance of manual rain gauges. With regards to the fisheries sector, the participative trainings cover sessions on security on sea (use of life jackets); climate system and climate change that govern the behavior of the oceans (tides, swell, visibility, etc.) and climate information services and its utilities for the security of fishermen at sea.
The field demonstration approach is an innovative, participatory and interactive learning approach that emphasizes problem-solving and discovery-based learning. The field demonstration was initiated during the study period and aims to build farmers’ capacity to analyze their production systems, identify problems, test possible solutions, and eventually encourage the members of their communities to adopt the practices most suitable to their farming systems. For the present case, a selected 62 farmers had the opportunity to practice and test/evaluate sustainable farming technologies and introduce CIS by comparing their conventional technologies developed with their own tradition and culture. The field demonstration was facilitated by the extension staff and by the access to relevant CIS. The method emphasizes group observation, discussion, analysis, presentation, and collective decision-making and actions. The basic component of the field demonstration, similarly to the farmer field school approach, is setting up of a participatory comparative experiment (PCE), commonly referred to as participatory technology development (PTD), whereby the farmers put the concept into practice [31
2.2.2. Evaluation of CIS Uptake among Exposers
The evaluation of CIS use was done using three different methodological approaches: (1) interviews with selected farmers who had access to CIS; (2) evaluation workshops with the farmers; and (3) evaluation of the performance of the MWGs.
A semi-structured questionnaire was developed to collect data from farmers and fishermen who received CIS via SMS and voice messages between May and June 2017 (the beginning of the rainy season) and October–November 2017 (end of the rainy season). A total of 289 farmers and 257 fishermen were randomly selected in the database. The questionnaire was administered using phone calls. The purpose was to assess the decisions taken by the beneficiaries after the reception of the CIS and the level of satisfaction for their activities. CIS communicated to farmers were concerned with the seasonal forecast, the optimal sowing dates, the instant rainfall occurrence forecasts, heavy wind forecasts and the cessation dates of the rain. CIS diffused to fishermen communities were mostly about high swell events that usually cause damages to fishermen’s life and fishing materials.
In addition, three workshops with the farmers were held in Ziguinchor, Sedhiou and Kolda in August 2017 to record interesting decisions that they have taken following the reception of the diffused CIS, and to evaluate the trainings they received prior to the start of the rainy season. This also offered a venue to retrieve constructive suggestions and options that would improve the trainings for the next coming years from them and, finally, to record interesting decisions that they have taken following the reception of the diffused CIS.
We assessed the performance of the MWGs through two major functions: the existence of a prefectural signed decree and the fulfillment of the decadal regular meetings during the rainy seasons. From the onset to the cessation times of the 2017 rainy season, all the meeting dates and reports of all created MWGs were recorded and examined at the end of the rainy season.