State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School


Alum Becomes Director of Senegal’s National Meteorological Service

meeting around a table
Members of Senegal’s national meteorological service meet to discuss long-term goals following Ndiaye’s promotion. Photo: Runyu Liang/M.A in Climate and Society

Ousmane Ndiaye, an adjunct research scientist at the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI), recently became the director of Senegal’s national meteorology service, which is part of the country’s National Civil Aviation and Meteorology Agency. Ndiaye now oversees all matters related to climate services in Senegal.

Ndiaye earned his doctorate from Columbia University in 2010 for his research with IRI scientists to develop accurate ways to predict the onset and character of the rainy season across the Sahel. He returned to Senegal to share his knowledge and contribute to building the capacity of the country’s meteorological agency. While the allure of job offers in the United States did not make this decision easy, Ndiaye was ultimately motivated by knowing his work would have more societal value back in Senegal.

In an email to IRI, Ndiaye wrote about how his experiences at IRI contributed to his career accomplishments back home, and how these experiences inform the outlook he brings into his new role.

“While at IRI, I had the opportunity to contribute to work being done in Africa, especially trainings on seasonal forecasting,” he recalled. This illuminated a gap in local climate science capacity that he saw he could fill.

Ndiaye has remained connected to IRI, and contributes to a number of initiatives led by his former colleagues. He has worked to help implement ENACTS in West Africa, develop climate services for farmers in Senegal, and is a close partner in the ACToday Columbia World Project (Senegal is one of the six project countries).

For Ndiaye, climate science is never far from the human dimension. In an interview with NPR, he describes his relationships with the farmers and communities he works with as personal.

“It’s not just a technician coming from the Met Service coming to train people and go,” he says. “We discuss, we consult, we talk on the phone, we talk about a lot of things. When you go to give the forecast, [you] discuss with people, engage with them. There is no price for it. You know their families, you know the names of their children, you know the problems they live with.”

Ndiaye’s old role will be filled by Oumar Konte, with whom IRI has worked through the R4 Rural Resilience Initiative run by the World Food Program and Oxfam America.

Now as a director, Ndiaye said, “I feel the responsibility and the moral duty of not failing and to raise the met service to another level for the betterment of the population who direly needs climate services.”

We look forward to working with him. Congratulations, Ousmane!

This post was originally published on the IRI website

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