Bridging the science-policy gap through climate exchange platforms in West Africa

Photo: E. van de Grift (CCAFS)

Project description

Science‐policy exchange platforms have been set up in Ghana, Mali and Senegal as part of an extensive research project led by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT). The platforms are seen as space for enabling and strengthening interaction and collaboration among regional stakeholders. The participants come from district- and national level government bodies, private sector, non-governmental organizations, traditional and religious authorities, research institutes, universities and farmers’ associations. Through the exchange platforms, the participants identify, share and discuss food- and climate-related issues, knowledge gaps and development priorities for their countries. The project aims to strengthen the interaction between national and local scales by providing room for stakeholders operating at these levels.

The project builds on the assumption that use of climate-smart agriculture technologies will be enhanced by an enabling environment. Therefore, the group discusses various climate-smart agriculture practices that could support the creation of climate-resilient food systems in their respective communities and districts. The overall goal is to create a knowledge bank based on experiences and science that helps to better inform policymakers and to effectively mainstream climate change into district-level food-system policies.

This systemic work supports climate adaptation planning, builds the capacity of participants addressing climate-issues, and produces site-specific contextual insights and scalable evidence to guide national and sub-national policy designs and decision-making processes. The platform activities build upon previous work done by the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) West Africa program, which has already established national-level knowledge-exchange platforms in the region. The new district-level alliances help complement the national-level ones through providing useful insights and guidance from lower levels, and help create a direct link to district-level organisations, farmers’ associations and regional councils.  

This research aims to support national directorates who are involved in policy design and implementation at the ministry level and parliamentary committees for agriculture and environment to use the platforms’ compiled knowledge to inform national food and agricultural policies. At the national level, this occurs in the three target countries: Ghana, Mali and Senegal. At the district level, this research aims to enable the relevant institutions, extension services, NGOs, District Assemblies, traditional and religious authorities to disseminate climate-smart farm practices and technologies.

The district-level platforms were set up in 2014 in Ghana, Mali and Senegal, and the work to bring relevant stakeholders together for regular face-to-face meetings and updates has continued. The project aims for the platforms to form the backbone of a top‐down and bottom‐up approach to better equip the nations against climate change and create better and more resilient food systems.


Expected outputs

  • Publications about the analysis and contributions of the inclusive policy design on its effective implementation
  • In 2017, workshops and training materials strengthen partner capacity in applying decision support tools in targeting, priority setting, policy/investment decision making capacities, and articulating national priorities
  • In 2017, national planners are supported in utilizing CCAFS information in policy decisions and investment plans through science-policy platforms and processes


The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) is leading the project in the region, working primarily with the International Union for Conservation of Nature in Burkina Faso, the Agency for Environment and Sustainable Development (AEDD) in Mali, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research in Ghana, and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in Senegal.


In each of the three pilot countries, district platforms were formed to guide climate-related interventions and investments according to local adaptation priorities. In the process of the platform formation, stakeholder mapping was done to map the different social groups and to integrate all social categories in the platforms, with specific attention to the gender dimension.

For example, in 2016 in the scenario workshops, perspectives of different social groups were highlighted, and interviews with women for the analysis of the gap between national policies and the local context also emphasized the gender dimension.

In 2017, deliverables include the development of innovations, interventions or policies with explicit gender targeting, and impact assessment of gender outcomes of research.


The project works in three districts each in Senegal, Mali and Ghana.

Further information

For further information, please contact Project Leader Edmond Totin (ICRISAT) at