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Boosting Flood Preparedness in West Africa through Enhanced Early Warning Systems

By Practical Action On 15.11.2023 DisasterResiliencePress release

A view of a muddy river in West Africa with a few houses in the background.

Thousands of people on the frontline of the climate crisis in West Africa are set to benefit from a £200,000 grant awarded to improve and strengthen the resilience of the communities in Senegal and Niger.

Practical Action has been awarded the grant by the UK Government as part of a £15.7 million programme delivered by various organisations in projects in Africa over five years.

The money will be used to work with communities so they can properly prepare for and respond to the effects of floods exacerbated by climate change.

Practical Action will focus on the deployment of an early warning system which will provide effective, timely and actionable climate and weather information.

This new initiative will be delivered through the Weather and Climate Information Services (WISER) Africa program, which is improving the use of weather and climate information services to enhance resilience to climate change and extreme weather events.

A group of people posing for a photo in front of a palm tree in West Africa.

Alioune Ndiaye, Practical Action’s West Africa Thematic lead for climate and resilience programs, said: “People in Niger and Senegal have long been grappling with the devastating impacts of climate change and floods.

“Our work will empower and support communities by providing effective early warning systems and giving them the knowledge to prepare and adapt to extreme weather events.

“With proper planning and resources, these communities will be able to not only cope, but thrive in the face of a changing climatic conditions.”

Over the next two years to September 2025, the project will work closely with communities in Thiès, Senegal, and Niamey, Niger.

In both areas, vulnerable populations often reside in areas prone to flooding, lacking the resources and infrastructure to cope with the aftermath. These communities are particularly at risk due to limited information, resources, and resilient infrastructure access.

The work will be delivered in partnership with Jokalanté, a specialised organisation in disseminating climate information services using local languages and local media.

We will also work alongside AGRHYMET, the West Africa and Sahel Regional Climate Center, specialized institute of the Permanent Inter-State Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel (CILSS).

We will also be working with the meteorological agencies in Senegal and Niger to ensure an effective co-production process between climate information providers, intermediaries, and end users.

Together, the organisations will:

  • Empower over 15,000 Senegal and Niger community members to prepare for floods by improving the early warning system with accurate and timely weather information.
  • Build stronger communities by helping them become more resilient to flood risks. This will help them better prepare themselves and take action to reduce the impact of the floods.
  • Improve community readiness by developing a reliable system that effectively warns communities of potential floods. This will involve collaboration between national weather agencies and organisations that help spread warning messages, and the communities themselves. This will increase the community’s readiness and ability to respond quickly when flood threats occur.
  • Create sustainable long-term support by involving various stakeholders, such as weather agencies, intermediaries, and the community, the project will establish a sustainable framework for the warning system. This means that even after the project ends, there will be ongoing support and resources available to help communities deal with floods.


  • Make climate and weather information easily understandable and accessible to communities. This way, people can make informed decisions and take appropriate actions to protect themselves and their properties from flood risks.
  • Conduct a basic analysis of the existing early warning system, limitations, and technical and institutional issues in the countries targeted by the project.
  • Conduct a case study in Senegal on flash floods, focusing on the collaborative process of producing warning messages and sharing them with communities through digital platforms and customized media.
  • Conduct a case study starting with identifying needs and formalizing a collaborative process in Senegal. Use this as a foundation to develop a roadmap for improving the early warning system.
  • Share and expand the knowledge gained from the project to promote an inclusive and sustainable early warning system.

The West African region is highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and floods. It relies heavily on rain-fed agriculture, making it sensitive to changes in rainfall patterns and droughts.

Deforestation and environmental degradation exacerbate the risks of floods and erosion. Rapid population growth, poverty, and inadequate infrastructure further compound vulnerability, increasing the region’s exposure to the destructive effects of climate change and floods.

In Niger, recurrent droughts, floods, and food insecurity compound the region’s existing challenges of high population growth and socio-political instability.