A Climate - Smart Agriculture Alliance for Africa

As women are more dependent on livelihoods and natural resources that are sensitive to climatic changes, they are also more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Photo: ICRISAT

26 African countries are participating in a voluntary CSA Alliance for Africa that is aimed to trigger policy changes and increase investments that can transform Africa’s agriculture in a changing climate.

African countries are moving forward with the advancement of Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA). During a Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA 40) pre meeting held on 30th May in Bonn, Germany, delegates from 25 African countries engaged in a dialogue on a shared vision  and a mechanism for coordinating country efforts for CSA.  Additionally, participants deliberated on institutional frameworks for accelerated and increased investments in CSA.

The meeting convened by the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) East Africa and the World Bank, invited a team of experts who shared their research findings and experiences on CSAs contribution to food security, jobs and incomes.

“Farmers in Africa are already implementing CSA practices. However, adoption rates are lower than expected given the potential benefits and resources spent on promotion. There is a lack of enabling institutional arrangements that are critical in pushing for CSA in Africa” said Dr. Chinwe Ifejika Speranza from University of Bonn and United Nations University Institute for Environment and Human Security.

Dr. Chinwe further provided examples of successful adaptation CSA practices including the farmer managed natural regeneration in Niger where about 2.5 million people are benefiting from improved fodder, reduced loss of fertile topsoil, increased incomes and enhanced food security. In Tanzania, 1800 villages are decreasing deforestation & forest degradation and are diversifying their livelihood strategies and thus building their adaptive capacity. This is through participatory forest management.  

Access Dr Chinwe’s presentation here:


Dr. Paul Mapfumo from the University of Zimbabwe spoke about more productive, efficient and resilient African farming systems.  He noted that “there is a call for new paradigms in the architectural (structural and functional) designs of crop and livestock production systems, new regimes of ecosystems services and socio-ecological transformations that can provide win-win-win agro- ecological systems”.  Finally, he said Africa needs to expand its opportunity horizons for enhanced adaptive capacity and livelihood benefits beyond farms (e.g. communities living beyond the reach of markets).

Gender perspectives on agriculture and climate change in Africa

During the meeting, the vital role of women as agricultural producers and agents of food and nutritional security was deliberated.

“In Africa, climate change is disproportionately affecting women and girls because of their greater vulnerability to extreme weather events”, said George Wamukoya from COMESA, who led discussions on the gender topic.  

COMESA, the African Climate Policy Center (ACPC) and CCAFS are working on a background paper to provide assessments of gender impacts, and of the potential to empower women and girls to increase their adaptive capacity and options for maximizing gender co-benefits and integrating gender dimensions into CSA. The paper will be used by the African Group of Negotiators and a policy brief will target African governments.

Read more about climate change and gender from CCAFS Big Facts

Towards a regional CSA Alliance

A CSA Alliance for Africa was first agreed upon in February 14, 2014 in a meeting in Arusha Tanzania where stakeholders convened to garner support for CSA in Africa

“The alliance is a voluntary sign up by governments to push for implementation of CSA practices and technologies as climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies for the millions of farmers in the region” said Dr. Richard Muyungi, former SBSTA Chair.

There are a range of CSA practices that are currently undertaken by farmers together with diverse practitioners that need to be identified and scaled up.  Since 2012, CCAFS has been working with communities in Africa and beyond to develop climate-smart villages; sites for trialing CSA agricultural interventions together with farmers and other stakeholders. CSV activities are weather, water, carbon, nitrogen, energy and knowledge smart.

A regional CSA Alliance can thus provide an opportunity for Africa leaders to learn and share climate-smart agricultural technologies and put in place mechanisms for Africa's readiness to adopt and bring these interventions to scale.  Through this alliance, Africa’s voice in the Global CSA Alliance will be established in the upcoming United Nations General climate summit meeting in New York this September.


Key outcomes of the Bonn meeting included:  an increased understanding and appreciation of CSA practices and technologies and their role in improving food security, increasing incomes and enhancing livelihoods in Africa’s changing climate.  Secondly, delegates reported increased government support for the CSA alliance as displayed by the voluntary endorsements.  Thirdly, countries were encouraged to promote continental coordination and knowledge sharing on CSA.

In addition to the above it was agreed to develop a compendium of existing climate smart agriculture best approaches (with strong gender dimensions) covering the six sub-regions of Africa (North Africa, Central Africa, West Africa, Eastern Africa, Southern Africa, and the Islands).  In order to optimize opportunities for the regional alliance, the team will identify and review existing global and regional climate-smart alliances and recommend mechanisms for linkages. Finally, the alliance will be involved in the preparation and publication of a technical (scientific) framework (underpinning the strategic vision, aspirational goals, benefits, opportunities, membership) for a functional, responsive and inclusive African CSA.

In the coming months, delegates will continue to garner support for the CSA alliance amongst more African countries in various fora such as African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN).

Further reading:

Read CCAFS' blogs from side events at SBSTA40


Mary Nyasimi and James Kinyangi work with CCAFS.  Mary is a Policy and Gender Specialist while James is the Program Leader for East Africa. George Wamukoya is a Climate Advisor with COMESA while Richard Muyungi works at the Vice President's Office in Tanzania. He is also the former Chair for SBSTA.