Linking sectoral adaptation planning processes at national and subnational levels: Lessons from Senegal

Submitted by Cesar Henrique Arrais | published 22nd Jan 2019 | last updated 17th Mar 2020
Linking sectoral adaptation planning processes at national and subnational levels: Lessons from Senegal


Senegal is highly vulnerable to climate change, particularly in its coastal zone, where two-thirds of the population lives. Recognizing the implications of climate change for the livelihoods of coastal communities, Senegal’s National Adaptation Plan (NAP) process has created institutional mechanisms that facilitate strategic linkages between local and national adaptation planning in climate-sensitive sectors. 

This sNAPshot describes Senegal’s experience with vertical integration in the NAP process, building on an earlier overview brief. 


Senegal is highly vulnerable to climate change, particularly in its coastal zone, where two-thirds of 
the population lives (U.S. Agency for International Development [USAID], 2017, p. 1). Rising sea levels are endangering the survival of mangrove forests and threatening to exacerbate coastal erosion, which has already rendered large parts of the coastline uninhabitable. Furthermore, the intrusion of salt water in coastal aquifers and soils through flooding has already led to crop failures and significant shifts and decreases in fish populations, threatening the productivity of the agricultural and fisheries sectors (USAID, 2017, p. 3). Recognizing the implications of climate change for the livelihoods of coastal communities, Senegal’s National Adaptation Plan (NAP) process has created institutional mechanisms that facilitate strategic linkages between local and national adaptation planning in climate-sensitive sectors. This sNAPshot describes Senegal’s experience with vertical integration in the NAP process (Dazé, Price-Kelly & Rass, 2016), building on an earlier overview brief. 

Senegal’s NAP process

The Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development (MEDD) leads Senegal’s NAP process. It does so with oversight from the National Committee on Climate Change (COMNACC), a central cooperative platform composed of experts from the different ministries involved, the private sector and civil society, including representatives from youth and women’s groups. Under the COMNACC, 14 Regional Committees on Climate Change (COMRECCs) have been established to facilitate subnational coordination, technical support and linkages to the national planning process. Each COMRECC is composed of representatives from various decentralized authorities, local collectives, the private sector, and non-governmental and community organizations Senegal is taking a sectoral approach to adaptation, focusing on 10 priority sectors. The relevant line ministries are tasked with developing strategies to respond to climate change within their sector of focus, supported by sectoral committees that report to the COMNACC. Once the sectoral adaptation strategies have been developed, they will be validated at the national and local levels, followed by an analysis of the inter-connections between the different strategies. When this is complete, adaptation actions will be prioritized and costed. 

A participatory approach to adaptation planning in the fisheries and aquaculture sector

The first sector to move forward on this process is the fisheries and aquaculture sector. As the main exporting industry in the country, it generates close to 600,000 direct and indirect jobs, and 30 per cent of the sector’s total full-time workforce is women (USAID, 2016, p. 47). Although industrial and recreational fishing are gaining in popularity, artisanal fishing remains the main source of jobs in this sector, which has over 19,000 boats in operation. And with half of the population’s animal protein coming from fish, the sector is crucial to Senegal’s food security (USAID, 2016, p. 47).

In September 2015, Maritime Affairs (MPEM), with support from the Collaborative Management for a Sustainable Fisheries Future in Senegal (COMFISH) initiative, launched the NAP–fisheries process. The process took inspiration from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) technical guidelines for the development of the NAP (UNFCCC, 2012), but contextualized these, starting with mapping the key stakeholders in the fisheries sector and the establishment of institutional mechanisms to coordinate the process. At the national level, the MPEM led the NAP–fisheries process in collaboration with the MEDD, the Ministry of Tourism and Air Transport and the COMNACC. A number of national research and training institutions provided inputs as well. At the local level, key stakeholders included the Local Artisanal Fishing Councils (CLPA), the COMRECCs, government technical services on fisheries and environment, and civil society organizations (Diouf, Diop, & Diop, 2016). Additionally, networks of CLPAs (departmental, regional and national) were established so that, depending on the scale of the intervention, the corresponding network will be implicated in addition to the individual CLPAs.
By the time the national phase of fisheries planning started, six local adaptation plans had already been developed through the COMFISH project for the communities of Ziguinchor, Kafountine, Saint Louis, Rufisque/Bargny, Sindia Nord/Sindia Sud and Joal/Fadjiouth. These were all developed in consultation with the CLPAs. This participatory process of developing local plans provided important insights into context-specific vulnerabilities and adaptation options, taking gender into consideration. The local plans informed the planning process at the national level. 
The synthesis of these local plans at the regional level was done through consultations and coordination efforts between the regional networks of local fishing councils and the COMRECCs. This aspect of the process helped to confirm the needs of the stakeholders involved, before ultimately integrating the information into planning at the national level through the COMNACC. Following a validation workshop that included all relevant stakeholders, the MEDD and the MPEM then signed the finalized NAP–fisheries document in November 2016, just over a year after the beginning of the process (personal communication, K. Sané, March 2018; personal communication, F. Thiaw, March 2018).
For the implementation phase, the MEDD and the MPEM jointly established the Climate Change Platform for Fisheries, a new national entity that provides strategic guidance for the implementation of the NAP–fisheries. Its roles include monitoring and evaluation, overseeing a coordination unit in charge of mobilizing funds for implementation, and collaborating with and reporting to the COMNACC. Moreover, and to ensure similar support at the local level, additional CLPAs are being created to facilitate the implementation of local adaptation plans. Three of the original local adaptation plans (Ziguinchor, Kafountine and Saint Louis) are being implemented to test this approach with the anticipation that, if successful, this will be replicated across the country and in the other sectors.

Lessons Learned

Senegal’s experience offers several useful lessons for linking adaptation planning at the national and subnational levels:

The importance of building on what has already been done at the local level: Using the sector-specific local adaptation plans that had already been developed as a starting point for the NAP–fisheries document increased the efficiency of the process. More importantly, it showed a deliberate effort by the government to root the national process at the local level and to elevate community stakeholders as important decision-makers. This has increased local ownership and ensured that local specificities are reflected in the national plan.

The critical role of local organizations in adaptation planning: The involvement of the CLPAs in the process helped to ensure that perspectives of local actors in the fisheries sector were captured in the planning. Established under a decree from the MPEM, CLPAs bring together a range of actors involved in artisanal fishing (including fishermen, fishmongers, fish processors, carpenters, mechanics and porters) with elected local officials, neighbourhood delegates and local administrators from a particular location. They provide a ready-made multistakeholder platform for local governance, dialogue and collaboration, which is embedded in the governance system for the sector. Further, these are key mechanisms to facilitate implementation of the plans, as they are responsible for establishing and enforcing fisheries management rules at the local level. Having them involved from the beginning will enhance the effectiveness and sustainability of the adaptation activities during the implementation phase.

The need to create functional links between levels of planning: Within government, a clear relationship between the COMNACC and the COMRECCs was established to facilitate coordination. Similarly, outside the government, the networks of CLPAs create a link between these local organizations and decision-makers at regional and national levels. This has facilitated information sharing across the different levels, which has enabled a coordinated approach to planning. These mechanisms will remain in place for the implementation of the plans, with the focus shifting to implementation and monitoring and evaluation of prioritized adaptation actions. 
All of these elements together contributed to Senegal being able to move relatively quickly through the NAP process for its fisheries sector. This was paramount to sustaining the motivation and participation of the actors involved at all levels, and in avoiding the potential political or economic barriers that can slow planning processes. Senegal’s NAP–fisheries document, which took just over a year to develop, offers one approach to how the links between national and subnational adaptation plans can be established and strengthened.

References and Further Reading

Dazé, A., Price-Kelly, H. & Rass, N. (2016).  Vertical integration in National Adaptation Plan (NAP) processes: A guidance note for linking national and sub-national adaptation. International Institute for Sustainable Development for the NAP Global Network. Retrieved from 

Diouf, K., & Thiaw, F. (2018, January). From the bottom up: Key lessons learned from Senegal’s NAP process. NAP Global Network blog. Retrieved from

Diouf, P., Diop, N. & Diop, H. (2016). Plan National d’Adaptation du secteur de la pêche et de l’aquaculture face au changement climatique horizon 2035. République du Sénégal.

National Adaptation Plan Global Support Programme (NAP-GSP). (in press). National adaptation plans in focus: Lessons from Senegal. This brief is part of a series that focuses on advancements made in formulating and implementing NAPs in developing countries. Retrieved from tid=All

Ndiaye, G.P. (2014). Elément B:  Eléments de la phase préparatoire: Expériences et les enseignements du Senegal.  Presentation by the Government of Senegal at the NAP Global Support Program Africa Regional Training Workshop, April 2014.  Retrieved from http://www.

U.S. Agency for International Development. (2017). Climate change risk profile: Senegal. Retrieved from Change%20Risk%20Profile%20-%20Senegal.pdf

U.S. Agency for International Development. (2016). Fishing for food security: The importance of wild fisheries for food security and nutrition. Retrieved from http://pdf.

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. (2012). National Adaptation Plans: Technical guidelines for the national adaptation plan process. Retrieved from