Professor Yahaya Nazoumou: Groundwater central to Niger’s climate change resilience

re-posted from GroFutures

[INTERVIEWER] Dr. Mohammad Shamsudduha or “Shams”, GroFutures Project Manager: thank you Professor Nazoumou for taking the time to discuss your involvement in GroFutures and how your work in the Iullemmeden Basin is making an impact on the government policies and practices of the water resources development and management in Niger.

[INTERVIEWEE] Professor Nazoumou or “Yahaya”:  I am a Professor of Hydrogeology at the Université Abdou Moumouni de Niamey. I coordinate the IB team with IRD (France) and colleagues from Nigeria to achieve the project goals. I am also an advisor on climate change at the Ministry of Planning and Local Development and currently advise the Government of Niger on matters related to climate change so that development plans and activities can improve the resilience of communities to the impacts of climate change in Niger, in rural areas in particular.

Shams: can you please expand on your role and activities of the department?

Yahaya: Under the Climate Investment Fund, the Niger Government in coordination with the African Development Bank, the World Bank and key Nigerien stakeholders, has initiated a Pilot Programme for Climate Resilience (PPCR) called the Strategic Program for Climate Resilience. Niger will receive some US$110 million in grants and concessional loans from PPCR to strengthen capacity in the sectors of agriculture and livestock in Niger. These efforts also include activities strengthening the development of science informing strategies that improve resilience. These activities are aligned to GroFutures vision of establishing a Network of African Groundwater Observatories that includes the Iullemmeden Basin of Niger. Improving our understanding of climate change impacts on water resources is also a priority of the group. To make accessible global climate projections data from large global-scale climate models and to develop regional scale models will facilitate the development of climate–resilient, land and water management programmes.

Shams: I am aware that you represented the Government of Niger at meetings of the IPCC (Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change) in Paris (2015) and Marrakech (2016). Can you share your experiences at these high-profile meetings?

Yahaya: Yes, I am member of a Niger Government’s team on climate change. I first represented the Government of Niger in 2014 at the Lima Climate Change Conference (COP20), and then attended the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris (COP21) and Marrakech (COP22). My role in these high-profile meetings was to demonstrate how Niger seeks to achieve resilience to climate change and implement adaptation plans, and how the government programmes are trying to reach its goals in reducing climate change impacts. In 2016, as the President of the Scientific Committee, I organised a meeting in Marrakech as a side event to the Climate Change Conference to showcase Niger government’s programmes and activities in terms of climate adaptation and resilience in rural areas. In that event, the President of Niger as well as key stakeholders including international donor agencies such as World Bank and African Development Bank were present. Time for that side event was limited to an hour but within that short period key participants including myself discussed Niger Government’s experiences in the adaptation strategies for climate change. It was a good opportunity for me to mention GroFutures and how groundwater-fed irrigation can be developed in Niger where surface water is limited and highlight the greater resilience of groundwater resources to climate change.

Shams: Have there been any follow-up activities since the meeting in Marrakech?

Yahaya: Following the UN Climate Change Conference in Marrakech (COP22), the President of Niger asked the Ministry of Environment to develop a proposal for the Green Climate Fund. Subsequently, the World Bank has asked the Niger Government to develop a much bigger proposal integrating development, research and policy. So currently, I am working with the ministry to develop the proposal and I am taking the opportunity to link this to GroFutures.