From local to global: Engaging policymakers to advance climate-smart agriculture in Africa

COP21 side event on the national climate-smart agriculture programmes in East Africa, co-hosted by CCAFS. Photo: V. Atakos (CCAFS)

Scientific evidence to support climate change, agriculture and food security policies and strategies in East Africa.

Agricultural systems in East Africa are highly vulnerable to climate change and variability. The frequency and severity of climate shocks such as drought, floods, heat and cold stress have increased with negative impacts on agriculture and food security. At the same time, agriculture significantly contributes to economic growth, food security, and employment in Africa.

African countries recognize the importance of the agricultural sector; for example, many African countries are implementing policies and strategies for climate change adaptation and mitigation in agriculture at national and local levels. In order to develop and implement successful climate change policies, policymakers need scientific evidence.

Integrating climate change in agriculture and food security policies and strategies

The CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) East Africa has been working with policymakers for many years to identify suitable policy and institutional frameworks that support evidence-based policy and program development. A new info note, titled Integrating climate change in agriculture and food security policies and strategies, gives an overview of how CCAFS East Africa informs policymaking that tackles climate change from local initiatives to global policies.

For example, at the local level, CCAFS is working with communities and policymakers to develop local adaptation plans of action (LAPAs) and to integrate climate change and agriculture issues in local level policy documents. Through LAPAs, communities and policymakers are actively involved in understanding their changing and future climatic conditions and to engage effectively in the process of developing adaptation priorities specific to their environment.

At the national level, different approaches have been used to engage with policymakers, all of which are linked to and build on each other. For example, CCAFS organized a series of workshops in the four countries (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Ethiopia) in collaboration with government partners, to identify priorities for research on agriculture and climate change.

At the regional level, CCAFS science informed the development of the CSA Framework Programs (CSA-FPs), which aim to support countries to synergize their National Agricultural Investment Plans (NAIPs) and agricultural sector programs with national climate change strategies and action plans in order to ensure a common and holistic approach.

And finally, at the global level, CCAFS and partners worked with the African Group of Negotiators (AGN) to prepare their submissions to subsequent SBSTA sessions, where CGIAR and other science partners knowledge outputs were used to provide evidence to the AGN to articulate the need to include agriculture into the global climate change policy discussions.

The partnership engagement approach CCAFS has adopted across all scales of providing scientific evidence to policymakers should be pursued with vigor to ensure that policies on climate change and agriculture developed and implemented in Africa are not only relevant but effective based on meeting the needs and priorities of the continent.

Download the info note: Mungai C, Radeny M, Nyasimi M, Atakos V. 2016. Integrating climate change in agriculture and food security policies and strategies: Experiences and lessons from East Africa. Copenhagen, Denmark: CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS).

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Lili Szilagyi is Communications Consultant for the CCAFS Coordinating Unit and for CCAFS East Africa.