Adaptation to climate change in the agricultural sector of southern Africa

Project description

Project title: SADC Adaptation to Climate Change in Rural Areas in southern Africa
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: SADC member states
Lead executing agency: SADC Secretariat
Overall term: 2016 to 2019

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The Southern African Development Community (SADC) region is strongly affected by the impacts of climate change. Extreme weather events, such as droughts and floods, pose an increasing threat to the population and, according to climate scenarios, their frequency and intensity will continue to increase. Along with the projected reduction in rainfall and increase in temperatures across large parts of the region, the productivity of the agricultural sector is expected to be significantly impacted. Seventy per cent of the population rely on the agricultural sector for income and employment. Climate change therefore presents a serious threat to food security and livelihoods, particularly among poor segments of the population in rural areas.

It is now recognised that there is a need to define processes and frameworks for climate-relevant planning in developing countries. This need is being addressed, in particular, in the negotiations of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Steps will also be taken to provide financial resources for implementing the processes and frameworks. So far, however, it has not been possible to translate them systematically into regional and national agricultural programmes and investments in the SADC region. The SADC member states still lack the resources, structures and processes necessary for the appropriate mainstreaming of climate change adaptation in agricultural programmes and investments.

The Centre for Coordination of Agricultural Research and Development for Southern Africa (CCARDESA) has the mandate to coordinate agricultural research and development in the SADC region. This should contribute significantly to building resources and structures in the SADC member states for the integration of climate change adaptation into agricultural programmes and investments.


CCARDESA has increased the capacities of SADC member states to integrate climate change aspects into agricultural programmes and investments.


The project supports the implementation of climate-relevant elements of the SADC Regional Agricultural Policy. To this end, it is strengthening the capacity of CCARDESA to act as a knowledge broker, coordinator and moderator for agricultural research and development.

The project carries out capacity building for technical staff and managers of different regional, national and local organisations, and it supports closer cooperation between regional and national institutions. At the regional level it disseminates information about topics related to climate change and agriculture, tailored to the different target groups. At both national and local levels, it is selecting agricultural value chains for which it will identify climate-smart investments.

The project is working in two areas:

  1. Regional dissemination of knowledge for climate change adaptation in agriculture and climate-smart agriculture
    SADC member states should gain access to improved knowledge management systems with which to promote the wider uptake of climate change adaptation in agriculture and climate-smart agriculture. Climate-smart agriculture increases the resilience of small-scale farmers, with production that is both better adapted to the changing climate and, as far as possible, more climate friendly in itself. As such it increases productivity and income levels sustainably, and improves food security. Climate-smart agriculture makes more efficient use of available resources, by combining agricultural research with indigenous knowledge, and applying practices and technologies for climate change adaptation.
  2. Climate proofing of agricultural value chains
    The project contributes to the improved capacity of SADC member states to disseminate and finance climate-smart practices in agricultural value chains. To this end it is:
  • carrying out vulnerability assessments to identify climate risks as well as options for risk mitigation, and to increase the resilience of priority agricultural products
  • prioritising proven climate change adaptation practices in priority agricultural value chains
  • carrying out feasibility studies of agricultural practices and technologies
  • conducting limited pilots of promising agricultural practices and technologies in specific cases
  • developing investment proposals for the scaling up of best practices in climate-smart agriculture for submission to potential funders.

All investment proposals will include measures that promote the participation of women in value creation.


Further information