Knowledge Sharing for Climate Change Adaption

Agriculture, fisheries and food security

Agriculture, fisheries and food security

There is general consensus that the impacts of climate change on agriculture will significantly impact the development challenges of achieving food security and poverty reduction in Africa. The majority of research on food security, adaptation and climate change in Africa is centred on the most vulnerable areas of Sub-Saharan Africa which are prone to increased drought and flooding. A good general overview of climate change and its impact on agriculture, especially in developing countries is provided in this FAO review document which covers climate change and food security as well as animal diseases and plant pests and their impact on food security.  The FAO notes that food security is not only linked to the availability of food but also to access to food and purchasing power, and that climate change has the potential of affecting both; through impacts on crop production and extreme weather that can severely disrupt infrastructure o food distribution systems and reduce purchasing power. The IFPRI Forum Publication How will agriculture adapt to a changing climate? provides a shorter global overview of climate change and food security with a feature article on Senegal.

Information Resources

IFPRI has produced a number of publications in French on key issues related to climate change and food security, including reports on soil degradation and soil nutrition (others available in the Resources section). IFPRI also has some interesting country- and region-specific discussion papers including reports on Ethiopia and South Africa.

Other more in depth studies can be found in various journals such as Global Environmental Change, Global Planetary Change, Environmental Sciences, Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment, and Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change. For information on accessing online journals for free if you are based in Africa see GDNet.

An interesting technical article found in PNAS Journal links the warming of the Indian Ocean with the decline in rainfall in Eastern and Southern Africa and the resulting decline in food production. They suggest improved farming systems, such as early warning systems, forecasts and improved biotechnologies- could help mitigate this. Another publication linking improved agriculture to sustainable development and climate change adaptation to climate change is  IIED’s Towards Food Sovereignty; Reclaiming Autonomous Food Systems (vol 1; vol 2),  which argues that a sustainable rural farming system that is able to adapt to changing climates needs to be small scale and to build upon local knowledge.

French-language resources on Agriculture and Food Security

In terms of publications in French resources are considerably more limited beyond the availability of translated documents from major institutes such as the FAO, IFPRI and CTA. Afrique Verte, an organization working on agricultural development, primarily in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger, offers a number of publications on food security and agriculture. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) offers a useful study on desertification and food security in the Sahel. The majority of French language material, however, is focused upon Francophone Africa. Additional publications can be found in the Resources section of this theme.


Fishing communities are particularly vulnerable to climate variability and change according to a DFID report, and their adaptive capacity is extremely limited. Programmes, policies and research on the adaptation of fisheries to climate change, however, are limited and recent. The 2005 NEPAD Action Plan for Fisheries, for instance, does not entail any reference to climate change, or climate change adaptation. The impact of climate change on fisheries, by contrast, has been well studied and climate change is known to threaten the food security and income of affected populations. A 2005 World Fish Centre bibliography provides a range of abstracts around this topic. A more concise review of current knowledge on the adaptation of fisheries to climate change has been published by the FAO . Another World Fish Centre publication also points to secondary impacts of climate change, such as changes in precipitation, storms, floods and droughts.

It is important to distinguish between different types of fishery: The resources available on this topic are largely separated in marine and inland fishery; the latter not having been explored to the same degree as marine fisheries. Marine fishing communities are mainly threatened by increased climate variability and by changes in ocean productivity as marine ecosystems lose equilibrium. A range of human response strategies is illustrated in a case study [MP_fishlivelihoods] on Ghana, a country exposed to a high level of marine ecosystem variability. These strategies may, however, be insufficient to address long term climate change.

In the case of inland fisheries and aquaculture, impacts of global warming and resulting adaptation strategies are different. Inland fisheries are often part of the so called ‘tri-economy’ of fishing, farming and livestock herding. The implications of these linkages are explained in a World Fish Center paper focusing on Africa, suggesting improved water- and land-use planning and better mobility of farmers, fishers and herders. A major concern in this area is the loss of inland waters, as highlighted by FAO and researchers from the World Fish Centre.