Policies and Practices for Climate-Smart Agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Comparative Assessment of Challenges and Opportunities Across 15 Countries

Sub-Saharan Africa is particularly vulnerable to climate change. The region is marked by strong dependence on rain-fed agriculture and natural resources, limited infrastructure in rural areas, and high levels of poverty. The region is projected to suffer further water stress, more frequent droughts, floods, and other alteration in rainfall patterns, leading to lower agriculture yields unless adaptation measures are taken. Furthermore, climate change is likely to reduce the land suitable for agriculture, potentially leading to increases in clearing of native forest and pasturelands for crop cultivation, with a consequent significant increase in carbon release. The effects of climate change on African agriculture thus are severe and a major challenge to household livelihoods. In this context, this study has set out to analyze the barriers and opportunities for promoting climatesmart agriculture (CSA) in sub-Saharan Africa. CSA means agriculture that: (i) increases productivity and income, (ii) adapts and builds resilience to climate change and variability, and (iii) reduces greenhouse gas emissions where possible. Eastern and Southern Africa hold great potential for CSA, but this potential needs to be further explored. The region has a large number of traditional agricultural practices as well as research-based programmes and techniques that have CSA qualities. CSA promotion requires concerted action from multiple actors, perhaps most notably from governments themselves, as from non-state actors who can work as CSA advocates.