Livestock and climate change: 16 West and Central African countries to move forward

Experts from 16 African countries come together to discuss issues around the livestock sector and identify opportunities for national capacity building.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, the livestock sector is a major contributor to rural livelihoods and the national economies, with at least 100 million poor people depending on it. In the Sahelian zone, the sector accounts for about 35% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and supplies about 30% of the revenue in the agriculture sector. Nonetheless, livestock emits significant levels of greenhouse gases (GHG) that contribute to global warming. This pushes the area to reorganize and reorient agricultural and livestock production systems to simultaneously meet food security needs and GHG mitigation targets.

Such major issues were discussed at a regional awareness-raising workshop on low emissions livestock, organized jointly by the Global Research Alliance on Agriculture Greenhouse Gases (GRA), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), the World Bank and the Senegalese Institute for Agricultural Research (ISRA) in Dakar, Senegal, 26–28 March 2019.

The workshop gathered forty experts from agricultural and environmental research/academia, all converging around the following topics, priorities and challenges:

  1. countries’ ambitions for agricultural development (particularly livestock development) and climate change, as well as confronting challenges;
  2. opportunities from ongoing technology development and policy efforts from organizations (CCAFS, GRA, World Bank, FAO);
  3. how science can support livestock in relation to the countries’ Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs); and 
  4. ways by which GRA, CCAFS, FAO and the World Bank can help build regional and national capacities and contribute to livestock-based projects implementation in West and Central Africa through tailored initiatives.

The experts of 16 African countries could learn about current regional actions on low emissions development in the livestock sector from various international organizations, programs and institutions, such as the aforementioned organizers, but also the French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD), Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA). This allowed participants to identify opportunities for research and policy agendas at the national and regional levels. The most important points that emerged included:

  1. research expectations,
  2. the provision of quality data and their use,
  3. the issue related to capacity building.

Dr. Abdulai Jalloh and Abdoul Aziz Diouf, as a prelude to discussions, addressed the current role of livestock in West and Central Africa and preliminary regional stock take in low emissions livestock. Following these presentations, the sessions offered the participants an opportunity to reflect on ways to strengthen their plans, address the identified opportunities and issues. They also considered the following questions:

  • How to improve GHG inventory?
  • How to develop reliable statistics for GHG assessment?
  • How to better calibrate GHG assessment methods?
  • How to equip African countries so that they can use their own data instead of using results obtained by foreign experts?

Participants in the Regional Awareness-Raising Workshop on Low Emissions Livestock. Photo: ISRA

A commitment to move forward together

Participants made a commitment to move together towards reducing GHG emissions from agriculture. To move from these conversations to action, they discussed the way forward in the development of livestock-oriented research and policy agendas at national and regional levels. Recommendations were made with regards to the accession of African countries that are not members of the GRA yet.

Participants have shown a keen interest in establishing a network or community of practices based on successful experiences of other countries. The capitalization and popularization of successful experiences regarding low emissions in livestock and agriculture was raised as a very important future action to be taken, as well as the provision of capacity building to stakeholders and improving the content of NDCs. One major identified point was the need for the development of special training curricula for universities and research institutes focused on livestock development.


Workshop jointly organised by CCAFS and partners: