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

Photo: E. van de Grift (CCAFS)

Project description

Science‐policy exchange platforms were 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 were seen as space for enabling and strengthening interaction and collaboration among regional stakeholders. The participants came 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 identified, shared and discussed food- and climate-related issues, knowledge gaps and development priorities for their countries.

The project aimed to strengthen the interaction between national and local scales by providing room for stakeholders operating at these levels.

The project built on the assumption that use of climate-smart agriculture technologies will be enhanced by an enabling environment. Therefore, the group discussed various climate-smart agriculture practices that could support the creation of climate-resilient food systems in their respective communities and districts. The overall goal was 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 supported climate adaptation planning, built the capacity of participants addressing climate-issues, and produced site-specific contextual insights and scalable evidence to guide national and sub-national policy designs and decision-making processes. The platform activities built upon previous work done by the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) West Africa program, which had already established national-level knowledge-exchange platforms in the region. The new district-level alliances helped complement the national-level ones through providing useful insights and guidance from lower levels, and helped create a direct link to district-level organisations, farmers’ associations and regional councils.

This research aimed 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 occured in the three target countries: Ghana, Mali and Senegal. At the district level, this research aimed 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 continued. The project aimed 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.



The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) was 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 included the development of innovations, interventions or policies with explicit gender targeting, and impact assessment of gender outcomes of research.


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

Further information

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