A one-day national workshop on the African Initiative for Combating Desertification (AI-CD) hosted by the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development (MEDD) of Republic of Senegal with co-sponsorship of JICA was held in Dakar on January 23, 2020.
The Government of Senegal has assumed the role of Sahel Regional Hub of AI-CD since 2016. After two preceding and successful Regional Workshops in the Sahel Region, this National Workshop convened over, for the first time for the country in Senegal, 50 participants comprised of MEDD officials, technical and financial partners of AI-CD such as the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Food Agricultural Organization (FAO), NGOs as well as representatives from National Regional Agency (ARD). ARD is responsible for regional development under Ministry of Territorial Governance, Development and Management of the Territory. It is notable that 12 out of 14 ARD representatives participated in this workshop. ARD is expected to play a key role in implementing projects in Senegal.
The objective is to discuss matters on desertification, climate change and possible orientations to realize these acute issues. Focus was given to discussion on access to finance in addition to the other two key pillars, i.e. Networking and Knowledge Sharing.
The opening session was chaired by Colonel Gogo Banel Ndiaye Niang, Technical Adviser N°1 to MEDD with her opening announcement of the workshop. She continued by delivering her opening remarks with her welcome messages to the participants and the officials including Colonel Baidy BA, the AI-CD Focal Point in Senegal, Chief Representative of JICA, and the technical and financial partners. She expressed her sincere thanks to JICA for their constant and multifaceted support for African countries and for Senegal in particular. She also conveyed her appreciation to all the participants, especially the Directors of the ARDs who have shaken up their agenda to participate in this important meeting. She also recalled the stakes of the fight against desertification for the Sahel and all the hope placed in this initiative to contribute strongly to the restoration of degraded lands and their sustainable management.
Mr. Masakatsu KOMORI, Chief Representative of JICA Senegal Office, as the co-organizer of AI-CD, he gave the opening remarks. He affirmed JICA’s readiness to accompany Africa’s development with and by Africans. He wished a great success to the workshop that could pave the way to the implementation of projects to further strengthen the 60 years of cooperation between Senegal and Japan, and 40 years of presence of Japanese volunteers in Senegal.
During the opening session, Colonel Baidy Ba of MEDD also stressed the importance of creating a platform that will enable the sharing of the information on AI-CD at both national and regional levels in the country. He presented an existing platform called “ National Committee for Sustainable Land Management (Comité GDT) as a relevant platform in the country but, since this committee does not have a regional dimension, it considered the necessity of a supporting group, and suggested to assume MEDD an institutional anchoring. According to Colonel BA, the Comité GDT would be enlarged to include other regional actors such as the Senegalese Association of Regional Development Agencies (AARDS). His opening speech completed the first session of the workshop.
The main session started by Colonel Baba BA, MEDD, representing the Focal Point of Senegal, who shared information on the Technical and Financial Partners useful for AI-CD promotion in Senegal. He briefly explained the modalities of assistance including finance by FAO, SGP-GEF, EU, USAID, KOICA, AFD, AfDB and IsDB. He added that relevant information on the funding modality is available on AI-CD website links on the financing mechanism of each donor. The ARD participants expressed their interest in those issues and some ARD Directors shared their regional experiences working with financial partners. Others stressed the need to move towards inter-municipality for greater impact in the implementation of the AI-CD.
AI-CD funding opportunities were presented by Mr. Yasuo IZUMI, AI-CD Cross-Regional Secretariat based in Tokyo. He concentrated his speech on major development banks as potential financial sources among others and their country strategy. Each bank renews periodically, and some of them would be renewing soon. He showed his view that the country may be benefitted by proactively marketing possible strategic pillars and project seeds based on the project concept towards such financial mechanisms to incorporate those in their new country strategy.
He also touched upon the importance of the roles of the private sector with the example of Japan. The other potential partners are, through JICA from its private sector overseas project assistance programme, Japanese companies that may bring their products, technology or services adaptable to Africa. Discussions were focused on issues related to the adoption of the technologies. He reiterated, in the same manner as Mr. KOMORI above, that Japan’s technological transfer is made that the beneficiaries will be self-sustainable by the end of the assistance.
Establishment of an AI-CD Supporting Group was introduced by Colonel Babacar DIA, consultant for AI-CD in Sahel Region. He pointed out that the effective implementation of activities requires technical support and coordination from regions where the projects are planned, developed and implemented. He further emphasized that there is a strong need to set up a structure to support the communities in the implementation of the AI-CD. To this end, a Director of ARD, who is also responsible for the AARDS Environment Commission, was selected by his peers as AI-CD Supporting Group Secretary. At the regional level, this Committee will have as its offshoot ad hoc committees headed by the Directors of ARDs, which will draw on local expertise (technical services). Discussions will be further developed to define the missions and operating methods of these support groups in a consensual manner.
A Project Concept Note of Senegal entitled “Combating Land Degradation and Strengthening the Resilience of Communities to Sandstorms” was briefly presented by Colonel Baba BA for further discussions among stakeholders. In Closing Session, Colonel DIA delivered the word of thanks to all the guests who participated actively and stayed from start to finish, which was quite exemplary and deserved to be highlighted. Following him, Mr. Mamouth DIOP, Director of ARD Kaolack, spoke on behalf of all the participants. He welcomed the importance of this meeting and sincerely thanked the participants and supports by the AI-CD Cross-Regional Secretariat and JICA. He suggested to both of the Secretariats in Senegal and Tokyo to maintain the momentum with the territories which are the receptacles of development projects. Mr. DIA declared the closure of the one day workshop.
For information, AI-CD National Workshops were held in South Sudan in July 2018, then in Nigeria in April 2019 and Burkina Faso in July 2019. The Senegal National Workshop featured above was the fourth one of this kind.
This activity of the AI-CD in Senegal was featured by the media. Some of the related articles can be found in the following links:
- An article about the workshop by a local newspaper, “le Soleil”
- An article about the workshop by a local newspaper, “l’Evidence”
- A radio news about the workshop by “West Africa Democracy Radio”