Building climate risk management capacity in West Africa

Photo: N. Palmer (CIAT)

Project description

Through multi-stakeholder communities of practice, the Capacitating African Smallholders with Climate Advisories and Insurance Development (CASCAID) program aims to extend the use of climate information for seasonal agricultural decision-making to over 2 million farmers (including 800,000 women) in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mali, Nigeria and Senegal. This will be achieved by building the capacity of African smallholders and the boundary partners through which those farmers access scientific research. These partners include national hydro-meteorological services (NHMS), non-governmental organizations (NGOs), civil society organizations (CSOs) and business within the private sector. The result will be actionable climate advisories, index insurance, and integrated climate services that will reduce the impact of seasonal climate risk from the farm to the national levels.

All activities build on existing climate services initiatives in the region and will match supply with real demand based on a combination of: 1) elicited local and seasonal climate information needs and the preservation of local climate forecasting knowledge; 2) the co-development of standardized climate and yield prediction products that bridge spatial and temporal gaps, including the CCAFS Regional Agricultural Forecasting Tool (CRAFT) and Tropical Applications of Meteorology using Satellite data and ground-based observations (TAMSAT); 3) the capacitation of national meteorological services and other intermediaries in interpreting, communicating, and activating this information in context; and 4) developing and testing socially differentiated index insurance schemes for smallholders to still reduce risk when everything else fails.

By scaling up climate services in Senegal through rural radio and supporting index-based insurance development in Nigeria, CASCAID is establishinged as an outcome-oriented process. It frames subsequent activities as participatory action research where innovative communication methods including information and communications technology (ICT), and crowdsourcing is will helping achieve a deeper impact. This process is will be facilitatinged by linkages with other CCAFS projects in West Africa which are focused around adaptation, and is will be leveraginged by CCAFS-supported national and sub-national science-policy platforms.

By 2019, over 2 million farmers (including 800,000 women) will use climate information in support of seasonal agricultural decision making in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mali, Nigeria, and Senegal. The four groups of boundary partners will implement equitable climate advisory services that reach at least 200,000 farmers and will incorporate project outputs into improved crop monitoring and food security early warning systems, reaching a further 100,000 smallholder farmers. The NHMS and AGRHYMET will provide place-based forecasts based on high-resolution gridded data, and new products and maprooms (historical, monitored, and forecast) in 4 of the 5 target countries, reaching at least 400,000 smallholder farmers.

Through public-private partnerships, the project aims to provide index-based insurance services to farmers in Ghana or Senegal, reaching 50,000 farmers, and rural radio umbrella networks will continue to broadcast seasonal climate forecast information to about 5 million smallholder farmers in Senegal. Finally, Nigeria's national index-based insurance program will incorporate project outputs into services targeting at least 15 million farmers.


  • A pilot activity that will connect climate information with users to assess its social and local relevance.
  • Improved field-scale yield predictions with remote sensing to improve in-season estimates of cotton, maize, millet, peanuts, and sorghum biomass and grains.
  • Real-time forecasting of district-level food security situations.
  • Three grassroots co-forecasting networks in the Kaffrine (Senegal), Lawra-Jirapa (Ghana), and Segou (Mali) districts to improve seasonal climate and crop performance predictions.
  • Weather index-based insurance services in Ghana, and improved information flows for index insurance in Senegal through public-private partnerships.
  • Downscaled, probabilistic forecasts and climate risk management interventions in Senegal disseminated through rural radio networks.
  • A planning workshop and background paper that will help design and develop Nigeria’s index-based insurance program, aimed to reach 15 million farmers.
  • Maprooms for Met Agencies, to aid decision making (e.g., Ghana)


The project partners are: (1) World Agrofrestry Centre (ICRAF), who leads the development of the community of practice for providing feedback for climate services information; (2) the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), who helps develop the communities of practice, provide human resources and steering committees, and plan meetings and yearly reviews; (3) University of Reading, who aids in the development of the communities of practice, provide climate services through the participatory integrated climate services for agriculture (PICSA) approach, and strengthen climate communications channels and capacity building; (4) AGRHYMET, who helps develop the communities of practice, food security monitoring, and prediction; (5) Jet-Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), who provides satellite imagery for crop yield predictions; (6) Washington State University, who helps with food security monitoring and prediction; (7) University of Ghana, who helps with food security monitoring and prediction; (8) International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI), who will drafts the background paper on Nigeria’s index-based insurance program, and perform index insurance analyses, assessments, and set up programs and information networks; and (9) Senegal’s national civil aviation and meteorological agency (ANACIM), who provides downscaled, probabilistic forecasts and test methods of communicating this information.


Research is focusing on how women’s livelihoods are affected by index insurance programs, and investigates gender-specific insurance products. Finally, gender issues is taken into consideration through all of the research and knowledge gathering processes.

Monitoring and evaluation of the PICSA (Participatory Integrated Climate Services for Agriculture) approach implemented in Northern Ghana demonstrated that 40% of the approximately 6000 farmers directly trained in PICSA are female. The gender research has been used to push the Ghanaian insurance industry for gender disaggregated statistics. Elements of the toolkit has also been taken up by other CCAFS initiatives.

The communities of practice will ensure that a minimum of 30% women and 30% youths will co-design, test, and validate the climate services products. The co-production and forecasting networks will involve a minimum of 20% women to provide observations and inputs, especially for peanuts, considered to be the “women’s crop.” Research will also focus on how women’s livelihoods are affected by index insurance programs, and will investigate gender-specific insurance products. Finally, gender issues will be taken into consideration through all of the research and knowledge gathering processes.

Further information

Fort further information, please contact the Project leader, Pierre C. Sibiry Traore (ICRISAT) at