Western Africa is characterized by large rural populations who depend on rain-fed, cereal-based subsistence agriculture in the sub-humid and semi-arid zones and on pastoralism in the arid zones. These areas are highly vulnerable to climate variability and sensitive to any future changes of climate. Increasing frequency and severity of episodic climate shocks – primarily drought – have led to major food crises in the drylands of this region, with resultant loss of lives and livelihoods, and a cycle of costly disaster relief competing with long-term development for scarce resources.
In West Africa, cropping systems are located along rainfall gradients, and the climate is characterized by dramatic fluctuations in the rainfall regime between decades. These amplify the substantial year-to-year rainfall variability, and provide an opportunity to look historically at climate-driven shifts in crops and at past adaptations to changes in rainfall regime. The region suffers from widespread land degradation particularly in the semi-arid Sudano-Sahelian zone, but benefits from policy support for regional drought management and for intra-regional trade facilitated by a common currency across the Francophone countries.
Baseline surveys: Data and materials are now available from baseline surveys at the household, village and organizational levels in this target region.
CCAFS Coordinating Unit - University of Copenhagen, Faculty of Science, Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, Rolighedsvej 21, DK-1958 Frederiksberg C, Denmark, phone +45 35331046; Email ccafs [at] cgiar [dot] org, EAN 5790000279012
Lead Center - International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)