Empowering 6 million smallholder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa by 2021

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What is climate smart agriculture?

Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) describes agricultural practices, approaches and systems that sustainably and reliably increase food production and the ability of farmers to earn a living, while protecting or restoring the environment.

CSA aims to build the food and nutrition security of the rural poor so that farm families have access to enough nutritious food at all times, even in the face of a changing climate.

CSA practices enable farming communities to:

  • sustainably and reliably increase agricultural productivity and incomes;
  • adapt and build resilience to extreme weather events and a changing climate; and
  • where appropriate, contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and concentrations.

Why have we formed this alliance?

The combined effects of climate change, inequity and population pressures are escalating the food and nutrition security and income challenges faced by Sub-Saharan Africa’s smallholder farmers.

Collaboration by governments, NGOs and research bodies is needed now to rapidly scale-up the adoption of CSA practices by the region’s smallholder farmers to improve their food and livelihood security and resilience to climate change.

We aim to empower 6 million smallholder farmers across Sub-Saharan Africa by 2021.

Our approach

The Alliance will develop a road map to stimulate the uptake of CSA practices, with a focus on the most vulnerable rural communities.

Members will work collaboratively with relevant Governments to design and implement programmes in a way which maximises the efficiency, effectiveness and impact of investments.

We will leverage existing CSA initiatives and the strengths and capacities of all significant stakeholders to deliver results at scale and drive policy reform.

What is climate smart agriculture?

Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) is a new approach to farming, whereby existing agricultural systems are adapted to be more sustainable, more productive and more responsive to local environmental conditions (including land, weather and climate). It seeks to build the capacity of farming communities, and in particular vulnerable smallholder farmers, to not only sustain themselves in the face of a changing climate, but to prosper.

CSA promotes:

  • sustainably and reliably increasing agricultural productivity and farm incomes;
  • resilience and adaptation to the effects of climate change; and
  • where appropriate, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and concentrations.

It does this by equipping farmers to better use and manage natural resources and adopt more efficient methods of producing, processing and marketing agricultural goods.

CSA requires an integrated approach that responds to the specific vulnerabilities of farming communities. Coordination across all agricultural sectors - crops, livestock, forestry and fisheries - as well as energy and water is required.

It seeks to ensure that climate change adaptation and mitigation are incorporated into agricultural development planning and investment strategies. Innovative financing mechanisms that link and blend climate and agricultural finance from the public and private sectors are essential to support farming communities at the scale required.

Examples of climate smart production systems include:

Soil and nutrient management - practices that increase organic nutrient inputs and retention and reduce the need for synthetic fertilisers

Water harvesting and use - pools, dams and retaining ridges to harvest water and irrigation systems to use it efficiently

Agroforestry - using trees and shrubs in crop and livestock production and land management systems

Conservation agriculture - incorporating practices such as minimum tillage, direct seeding, mulching and crop rotation

Livestock production efficiency and resilience - improvements in animal husbandry and application of contextually appropriate practices in nutrition, reproduction and health control

Why have we formed this alliance?

Smallholder farmers represent 80 percent of Sub-Saharan Africa’s farming population and they are suffering the most as droughts, floods and other weather-related events become more frequent and more severe.

A changing climate, combined with persistent inequity and growing population pressures, pose serious food and nutrition security and livelihood challenges for communities already experiencing extreme poverty.

According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, some 27 percent of Sub-Saharan Africa’s people are undernourished. With the region’s population projected to double by 2050 to 2.1 billion, sustainably improving agricultural productivity is pivotal to addressing these challenges.

By adopting CSA practices, smallholder farmers can reduce the risks they face due to climate change, while enhancing food security and livelihoods.

Yet to date, lack of coordination has led to fragmented approaches by governments and NGOs and a multitude of disconnected CSA "pilot" projects. Individual efforts are insufficient in scale and rate to achieve transformational impact on the region’s smallholder agriculture.

Collaboration is needed now to identify and scale-up best practice project models, to build capacity and experience and help inform future choices. Essential to this is establishing a platform for multilateral and bilateral investment.

The Africa CSA Alliance has formed to leverage policy, technical and financing support for grassroots national and regional-level programmes and initiatives that can drive the widespread adoption of CSA practices throughout Sub-Saharan Africa.

Our goal is to support the uptake of CSA practices by at least 6 million farming households in Sub-Saharan Africa by 2021, contributing to the African Union’s broader goal of supporting 25 million farming households by 2025.

The Africa CSA Alliance has been convened by the African Union through NEPAD’s Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP). Through CAADP, the African Union has prioritised agriculture development as a key driver for broad-based economic growth and inclusive development, with environment and ecosystems resilience as integral components.

This is the first time that NEPAD/CAADP has established an explicit role for international NGOs, who are well placed to promote CSA due to their involvement with communities at the grassroots level and their strong partnerships with local NGOs and community-based organisations.

Our approach

The value and impact of CSA on food and nutrition security, livelihoods and resilience to the effects of climate change can only be achieved through a focus on results to drive policy reform.

To support the uptake of CSA practices to 6 million smallholder farmers by 2021, the Africa CSA Alliance will work inclusively with all relevant stakeholders across the sector, and will develop:

  • a vehicle for multilateral and bilateral investment for implementation of CSA activities at scale across Sub-Saharan Africa;
  • a collaborative platform for identification, design and implementation of the most efficient and effective programmes; and
  • a comprehensive evidence framework, capacity and vulnerability mapping tools and a web-based knowledge sharing platform

International NGO members, together with local NGOs and community or farmer-based organisations, will enable the rapid scale-up and implementation of CSA projects. Technical members will ensure that implementing partners have the best, most up-to-date technical information and evaluation capacity. Working together, all member organisations will incorporate learning and knowledge sharing into project delivery.

The Alliance will focus its efforts on:

  • increasing farmers’ access to effective training and skills development on locally appropriate CSA practices;
  • strengthening peer exchange and learning on CSA practices and how their adoption impacts food and nutrition security, building resilience and improving livelihoods, especially for women, youth and other vulnerable groups;
  • strengthening agricultural extension services, agronomic input suppliers, and equipment and technical service providers so they can provide sustainable and climate resilient services to more farmers in more locations;
  • strengthening CSA-related entrepreneurship development and market linkages between farming households and other market actors through community mobilisation; and
  • advocating for and supporting local, regional and national governments and civil society organisations to create conducive policy environments for the adoption of CSA practices.

In order to finance activities, the Alliance will seek support from bilateral, multilateral and private donors. A CSA investment framework incorporated into existing national and regional agriculture investment plans will help to enable project scale-up. Innovative funding approaches, including grants, loans and South-South Cooperation, will be pursued to gain the momentum required.

Executive members

The Alliance is coordinated by a pan-African steering committee comprising its executive members, together representing government, research institutions and civil society.


Political Partners

Technical members

International NGO members

The New Partnership for Africa's Development

The New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) is the African Union’s strategic framework for pan-African socio-economic development.

NEPAD is a radically new intervention, spearheaded by African leaders, to address critical challenges facing the continent: poverty, development and Africa's marginalisation internationally.

NEPAD provides unique opportunities for African countries to take full control of their development agenda, to work more closely together, and to cooperate more effectively with international partners.

For more information visit nepad.org.

Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa

The history of COMESA began in December 1994 when it was formed to replace the Preferential Trade Area for Eastern and Southern Africa (PTA) which had existed from 1981. COMESA was established 'as an organization of 19 free independent sovereign states which agreed to co-operate in developing their natural and human resources for the good of all their people'.

COMESA’s Vision is to “be a fully integrated, internationally competitive regional economic community with high standards of living for its entire people ready to merge into an African Economic Community”.

COMESA’s mission is to “Endeavour to achieve sustainable economic and social progress in all Member States through increased co-operation and integration in all fields of development with special focus on trade, customs, monetary affairs, transport, communication, information, technology, industry, energy, gender, agriculture, environment and natural resources”.

For more information visit comesa.int.


CARE International seeks a world of hope, tolerance and social justice, where poverty has been overcome and people live in dignity and security.

Our programmes tackle the root causes of poverty by:

  • providing a safety-net of basic services and strengthening capacity for self-help;
  • providing economic, social and educational opportunities;
  • delivering assistance in emergencies;
  • influencing policy decisions at all levels to ensure relevance of actions for programme participants; and
  • addressing discrimination in all its forms.

CARE places special focus across all of its programmes on working with women and girls and promoting gender equality.

For more information visit care-international.org.

Catholic Relief Services

Catholic Relief Services carries out the commitment of the Bishops of the United States to assist the poor and vulnerable overseas. We are motivated by the Gospel of Jesus Christ to cherish, preserve and uphold the sacredness and dignity of all human life, foster charity and justice, and embody Catholic social and moral teaching as we act to:

  • promote human development by responding to major emergencies, fighting disease and poverty, and nurturing peaceful and just societies; and
  • serve Catholics in the United States as they live their faith in solidarity with their brothers and sisters around the world.

As part of the universal mission of the Catholic Church, we work with local, national and international Catholic institutions and structures, as well as other organisations, to assist people on the basis of need, not creed, race or nationality.

For more information visit crs.org.


Oxfam is global organization working to right the wrong of hunger, poverty and injustice. We save lives and help rebuild livelihoods when crisis strikes. And we work with partner organizations and alongside vulnerable women and men to create lasting solutions to poverty, including through campaigning for social change. Our approach is about tackling the root causes of poverty. We start by asking questions and challenging assumptions. What are the conditions causing poverty? What can we do to change the power dynamics that keep people poor? This approach informs the four categories of our work:

  • Saving lives: Oxfam assists the poorest communities when disaster strikes. We also work to ensure greater local resilience and the capacity of local responders and governments;
  • Programs to overcome poverty: Oxfam invests in programs to help people assert their rights so that they can improve their lives;
  • Campaigning for social justice: Oxfam works to change the laws and practices at the local, national and global levels that keep people trapped in poverty; and
  • Public education: As part of our efforts to overcome poverty, Oxfam works to change the way people think about poverty and its causes.

For more information visit oxfam.org.

Concern Worldwide

Concern Worldwide is an international humanitarian organisation dedicated to tackling poverty and suffering in the world’s poorest countries. We work with the very poorest people in these countries, directly enabling them to improve their lives, as well as using our knowledge and experience to influence decisions made at a local, national and international level that can significantly reduce extreme poverty.

Our programme work focuses on three specific areas - livelihoods, education and health, as well as responding to emergencies.

The focus of our work in our livelihoods programme is to contribute to lasting improvement in the incomes and food and nutrition security of the extreme poor by implementing high quality multi-dimensional programmes. Specifically we will focus on:

  • promotion of Climate Smart Agriculture in particular Conservation Agriculture and Agroforestry and developing stronger links between agricultural production and nutritional outcomes;
  • graduation of the extreme poor to economic productivity;
  • community resilience to under-nutrition, in particular addressing the threats posed by climate change;
  • support for urban livelihoods in disadvantaged areas; and
  • promoting social protection.

For more information visit concern.net.

Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network

Since 2005, the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) has pioneered regional learning and knowledge acquisition in agricultural and food security policy analysis and advocacy, initially in Southern and Eastern Africa, and latterly extending its contribution and reach to continental and global levels.

The broad objectives of FANRPAN are to:

  • promote the development of appropriate agricultural policies in order to reduce poverty;
  • enhance food security in Africa; and
  • promote sustainable agricultural development in Africa.

Through strong collaborative and experiential learning with its constituent stakeholders at national and regional levels, FANRPAN has progressively developed its food and agricultural policy engagement and action cycle which is the cornerstone of its distinctive approach to innovation and learning for policy and capacity development at regional and national levels.

For more information visit fanrpan.org.

World Vision

World Vision is a Christian relief, development and advocacy organisation dedicated to working with children, families and communities around the world to overcome poverty and injustice.

Projects driven from the grassroots level aim to ensure that communities have reliable access to nutritious food at all times and that they are resilient to climate change.

Specifically we focus on:

  • raising awareness on the impacts of climate change and climate change adaptation;
  • promoting sustainable soil and water management, nutrient cycling and the planting of resilient and diverse species;
  • promoting the security of wild biological and agricultural resources; and
  • promoting appropriate, affordable and clean energy technologies in marginalised communities.

For more information visit wvi.org.

Or, for information relating to our involvement in the Alliance contact Doug Brown or Chris Armitage at csa@wvi.org.

Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa

The Forum for Agricultural research in Africa (FARA) is an apex organisation bringing together and forming coalitions of major stakeholders in agricultural research and development in Africa.

It is a strategic platform that fosters continental and global networking to reinforce the capacities of Africa’s agricultural science and innovation community from research, education/training, extension and civil society engaged in agriculture.

Established in 2001, the forum encompasses all stakeholders, African and non-African, who are committed to enabling African agricultural development and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), especially MDG1 (eradicate extreme poverty and hunger) and MDG7 (ensure environmental stability).

FARA was established by the sub-regional organisations to contribute to sustainable achievement of high broad-based agricultural growth in Africa while the specific objective is to contribute to sustainable improvement of broad-based agricultural productivity, competitiveness and markets in Africa.

For more information visit fara-africa.org.

Pan-African Farmers Organization

Pan-African Farmers Organization (PAFO) is the continental platform for the sub-regional networks of farmers’ organizations and agricultural producers of the Maghreb (UMAGRI), of the Southern Africa (SACAU) , of Central Africa (PROPAC) , of the Eastern Africa (EAFF) and of West Africa (ROPPA), working together since 2003 on continental issues of interest having a significant impact on African agriculture.

PAFO contributing to supporting a future that frees Africa from famine and malnutrition through adoption of modern and sustainable agriculture that is able to meet the economic, social and ecological functions of wealth creation, preservation of family and national solidarity, and equitable and sustainable management of natural resources.

PAFO has the following mission:

  • Defending the rights and social and economic interests of African farmers and producers and their organizations at the continental and international level;
  • Promoting solidarity and partnership between farmers’ organizations and African producers;
  • Build common views on key challenges for feeding the population , the development of a modern and competitive agriculture and the preservation of African natural resources;
  • Influencing agricultural policies and strategies at the continental and international level in order to better consider the interests of African farmers;
  • Represent the farmers organizations and African producers at continental and international level;
  • Contribute to the promotion of agricultural products trade and the African regional economic integration;
  • Share information, experiences and knowledge in all areas of agriculture and development rural.

For more information visit pafo-africa.org.

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations is an intergovernmental organization representing 194 Member Nations, two associate members and the European Union.

Achieving food security for all is at the heart of FAO's efforts - to make sure people have regular access to enough high-quality food to lead active, healthy lives.

Our three main goals are: the eradication of hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition; the elimination of poverty and the driving forward of economic and social progress for all; and, the sustainable management and utilization of natural resources, including land, water, air, climate and genetic resources for the benefit of present and future generations.

For more information visit fao.org.

The Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research

CGIAR is a global partnership that unites organisations engaged in research for a food secure future.

The name CGIAR comes from the acronym for the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research.

CGIAR research is dedicated to reducing rural poverty, increasing food security, improving human health and nutrition, and ensuring more sustainable management of natural resources. It is carried out by 15 centers that are members of the CGIAR Consortium, in close collaboration with hundreds of partner organisations, including national and regional research institutes, civil society organisations, academia, and the private sector.

CGIAR is represented in the Africa CSA Alliance by the lead center, the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS).

CCAFS brings together the world’s best researchers in agricultural science, climate science, environmental and social sciences to identify and address the most important interactions, synergies and trade-offs between climate change and agriculture.

For more information visit cgiar.org.

Proposed locations

The Africa CSA alliance is committed to action, and to maximising the efficiency, effectiveness and impact of scaling-up activities. Many of its members and supporters have substantial expertise in scaling-up CSA, and collectively provide a strong foundation for developing effective collaborative approaches.

Preliminary vulnerability and capacity assessments have been conducted across Africa, and regionally appropriate activities prioritised. The Alliance is working with relevant Government Ministries and other key stakeholders to harmonise with existing plans and initiatives in a growing number of sub-Saharan African Countries. Currently, national CSA scaling-up plans are being developed in Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Niger, Uganda, Tanzania and Zambia.

Alliance members are currently developing high-level concepts for each country. Country sub-committees will be formed, including as far as possible all major stakeholders working in each country. These sub-committees will refine concepts to ensure they are contextually appropriate and will develop detailed proposals.

Select the highlighted countries on the map below for more information.


Ethiopia is one of the poorest nations in the world with a per capita GDP of just US$177 per annum. Its agricultural sector, which supports over 90 percent of the population, has been crippled by environmental degradation.

The overexploitation of forest resources has left less than three percent of Ethiopia’s native forests remaining. Severe erosion reduces the capacity of the land to absorb water, and has resulted in increasingly severe cycles of drought and flood.

Considerable efforts are being made by the Ethiopian Government and its partners to develop climate resilience, ensure sustainable development and meet the food needs of a growing population.





Chronic food insecurity has been a defining feature of the poverty that has affected millions of Nigeriens for decades. The vast majority of these extraordinarily poor households live in agro-pastoral areas that are heavily reliant on livestock production and rain-fed agriculture and thus, in years of poor rainfall, the threat of wide-spread starvation is high.

While the government is making concrete steps to turn the situation around through its 3N programme (Nigeriens Nourish Nigeriens), a concerted effort is needed to promote the wide-spread adoption of CSA practices in support of this effort.




More than 70 percent of Zambia’s 13 million people rely on agriculture for their livelihoods. But poor use of land resources has severely degraded the soil, making it difficult for farmers to raise agricultural production beyond subsistence levels.

Increasing costs of fertilisers, other agricultural inputs and transport have made local production of food crops more expensive. Zambian farmers are also vulnerable to increasing weather extremes of drought and floods.

The Zambian Government has recognised the potential of CSA practices to improve food security and contribute to sustainable development in its Revised Sixth National Development Plan of 2013.

How to get involved

There are many ways to be part of this ground-breaking initiative. Individuals anywhere in the world will be able to financially support Alliance projects and see the impact you’re contributing to.

We welcome the involvement of like-minded development, scientific and technical organisations.

As sustainable economic development requires technical assistance and market access, we want to engage the private sector in this work too.

If you would like to be kept informed on our progress and alerted to opportunities for involvement, please complete and submit this form and we will add you to our mailing list.

We invite all who are interested to join this ground-breaking initiative through opportunities to provide direct financial support for Alliance programs.