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Lessons learned from Senegal NCAP Project

Multiple Authors

The example of work carried out in Senegal under the NCAP project to expand the country’s NAPA submissions beyond the initial primary sectors of agriculture, water resources and coast zone management raises both some interesting questions and highlights some potential advantages of such effort. It is perhaps easier to begin with the potential advantages.

Firstly, as opposed to efforts to develop priority adaptation activities in the primary production sectors, which tend to occur to subsistence levels across wide areas of a country such as Senegal, components of the service sector, such as tourism, tend to be concentrated in more limited geographic areas. In the case of Senegal, it was possible for a national level consultative process to identify three critical zones of the tourism sector which were also vulnerable to climate change risk. Based on this calculation the Sine-Saloum Delta, the Petite Cote and the Langue de Barbarie quickly became the focus of analysis. Once this geographic focus was made, it was possible to develop more specific adaptation measures than can be the case when attempting to define adaptation activities for the entire agriculture sector in Senegal. This appears to be the case even when the country is divided into four regions as was done in the initial NAPA submission from Senegal.

It was perhaps even easier to focus the analysis dealing with transport infrastructure. Here the data suggested that the largest concentration of commercially related road traffic, vital to the efficient functioning of the overall economy, was in the regions around Dakar and Saint-Louis. That the roads in these areas are already experiencing problems linked to climatic phenomenon served to further motivate the choice to focus on these zones. As clear problems already exist, problems which can plausibly be assumed to become exacerbated under future climate change; it is relatively straight forward to define adaptation activities. The challenge comes in the development of the prioritized ranking.

Having identified priority adaptation activities for economic activity taking place outside the primary production sectors, it also seems easier to imagine implementing them should funding become available, over a distributed program to promote reforestation or rainwater harvesting across widely distributed communities and production zones. One can even imagine how to calculate the economic benefit of such adaptation activities using fairly standard analytical techniques. For example, estimate the reduction in the number of days a road is closed thanks to an adaptation activity, use available statistics to sum up the number of trips that would have otherwise not been possible and multiply by some factor representing the value of the goods being transported.

Nonetheless, the greater ease with which a NAPA plan might be developed and implemented in a non-primary production sector does not change the fact that the NAPA program, and the NCAP project which supported the expansion of the NAPA process in Senegal, clearly focus on adaptations that can increase the adaptive capacity of poor people to withstand the negative impacts of climate change. It is here that the questions arise.

  • Is it possible to justify climate change adaptation activities in non-primary production sectors by assuming that there will be a trickle down improvement for the poorest and most vulnerable members of society?
  • Will the development of a submission to the UNFCCC of more concrete NAPA adaptation activities for non-primary production sectors disadvantage activities developed for the primary production sector when it comes to funding?
  • Conversely, will investment in NAPA adaptation activities targeted at primary production sectors disadvantage activities designed for service sectors that could eventually create opportunities for people to move out of what are likely to be increasingly vulnerable primary production sectors under future climate regimes?

These are hard questions and NCAP activity in Senegal has brought them to the forefront. While this paper is not in a position to take them on directly, they do suggest some thoughts on useful recommendations for other countries that would like to expand their own NAPA submittals to the UNFCCC beyond their own primary production sectors.

Recommendations and Conclusions

The most helpful realization for grappling with the vexing questions seems to be that as of yet no funding mechanism is in place to implement the long lists of priority adaptation activities that have be filed with the UNFCCC as part of the NAPA process. While it appears that the climate change adaptation dialogue is gaining momentum and that it will be a central part of the Post-Kyoto negotiations scheduled for Copenhagen in 2009, there is still no stable funding mechanism for adaptation activities in the least developed countries.

In this context it seems prudent for countries to develop NAPA priority adaptation activities for non-primary production sectors as there is no way of knowing what project selection criteria will be applied. If the criteria favor discrete activities that can be completed in limited windows of time, it may be a good idea to have some road reconstruction projects on file along with the project to scale up community based rainwater harvesting technology to a regional or national scale. If the criteria require direct investment in the current activities of the poor, then a country will be pleased to have a national reforestation initiative on file along with a proposal to restore a beach in a critical tourist region. In the absence of clear guidance as to which sorts of projects will be funded from an eventual global adaptation fund, it makes sense to develop a wide range of projects.

More fundamentally, however, moving the NAPA process beyond the primary production sectors forces the issue of what sort of economy a country would like to develop out into the open, and challenges policy makers to assess which economy is the most resilient to climate change. This is a conversation that has no end, no point of definitive certainty. Instead it is a conversation that once engaged will facilitate and open a productive dialogue about how we are to confront humanity’s central challenge for the 21st century. The NCAP team in Senegal should be commended to their effort to initiate this conversation.

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Back to: Netherlands Climate Assistance Programme (NCAP)

Senegal NCAP Project

Methodology of Senegal NCAP Project

Key findings from Senegal NCAP Project

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