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Climate change and adaptation in African agriculture

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Author:
G. Ziervogel
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The development of climate projections for Africa is evolving rapidly, yet little is known about how effectively this data is being utilised. This study, commissioned by the Rockefeller Foundation, aims to identify and understand the extent to which, and ways in which, information from climate change models is being integrated into agricultural development practice and decision-making in Africa. The paper explores:

current knowledge linking climate change models with African agricultural development practice and identifies the institutions and stakeholders involved in the associated activities
the barriers and challenges confronted by agricultural development programmes and farming communities in Africa who are seeking to access and use information
options and opportunities for improving the uptake of climate information for developing adaptation responses.

The paper finds that, although climate projections for Africa are developing rapidly, efforts to communicate this science to agricultural users remains rudimentary and fraught with what are perceived to be contradictory and unreliable messages. Amongst farmers, applications of the existing, downscaled data in decision-making is limited to a few progressive and long-term farming schemes and agribusinesses. Regarding the type of data used, the study finds that this is mainly highly aggregated, generated by a few key international organisations and based on user accessibility rather than suitability to the specific problem or research question. Modelling of African climate from within Africa is found to be limited.The paper concludes with a number of recommendations to improve the integration of data into agricultural development practice and decision-making. These include:

improving and expanding climate change projection data in Africa
bringing data producers and data users together
moving from awareness raising to 'proof of concept', i.e. providing examples of agricultural decision-makers that have successfully drawn on climate change projection data to make decisions that have improved agricultural productivity or human wellbeing
developing platforms as the backbone for collaborative action and information sharing
placing climate change within the broader African development context.