Introducing climate-smart agriculture tools for Africa

Posted by , posted on Monday October 19 2015(3 years ago)
By Solomon Kilungu, Catherine Mungai and Vivian Atakos


There is a global push towards climate-smart agriculture (CSA) because it offers answers to issues of food security, poverty alleviation and climate change mitigation and adaptation. To support a transition to CSA in Africa, researchers and development practitioners have developed a range of tools and options for effective climate adaptation and mitigation in agriculture in different environments and at diverse scales.


On 13th October 2015, the Climate and Agriculture Network for Africa (CANA) brought together 146 stakeholders among them policy makers, development practitioners and researchers in an interactive forum to share innovative tools for CSA. During the one and half hour long online event, four CSA tools were discussed based on the innovative work of several CGIAR centers whose researchers are working under the Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) Program. A fifth tool was included based on work by the Adaptation Learning Program (ALP) of CARE International. These organizations, among many others, are prioritizing, implementing and testing CSA technologies and practices in Africa and beyond.

This highly interactive webinar saw panelists give a 10 minute presentation of their tools followed by a question and answer session. This allowed participants to seek further clarification based on the presentations.

The CSA Compendium

This is a quantitative and systematic approach developed by researchers from the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) to understand what agricultural practice works where and for what. It tries to help stakeholders address the fundamental question of what is and what is not CSA in an objective and rigorous way. The CSA Compendium tool helps implementers in identifying practices that will achieve maximum impact in a specific region.

“CSA is context specific and subject to the priorities of farmers, communities and governments where it is being implemented. Therefore, we need to understand its utility for development,” said Todd Rossenstock, an Environmental Scientist at ICRAF.

Learn more about this tool on the project page: Partnerships for scaling out climate-smart agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa

CSA Prioritization Framework

This tool was designed by researchers based at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) to help direct investments towards CSA. The tool targets national and sub national decision makers and incorporates a set of filters to help them evaluate CSA options. Key characteristics of this tool include: flexibility in addressing needs of different users; stakeholder driven by embedding filters within a participatory process; simplicity in that it requires very little time to use and is affordable; and finally is linkable to other existing tools.

Prioritization does not imply one output but different portfolios based on intended application. Beneficiaries are a key output from this process,” said Caitlin Corner-Dolloff a Climate Change Adaptation Specialist at CIAT.

Learn more about this tool.

Climate Smart Agriculture Rapid Appraisal (CSA-RA)

The CSA-RA tool was developed researchers at CIAT to inform CSA outscaling and implementation. The tool combines socio-economic and biophysical realities across scales in order to prioritize, implement and out-scale CSA. Further to this, it integrates gender principles to ensure equitable uptake of CSA technologies and practices.

“If you are to prioritize CSA, you need to identify the key indicators that farmers consider when adopting a practice. Subsequently, you ask the farmers to rank those indicators and you weigh them,” said Caroline Mwongera,a Farming Systems & Climate Change Post-Doctoral Scientist at CIAT working under a CCAFS project.

Learn more: Simple yet comprehensive: A Climate Smart Agriculture Rapid Appraisal prioritization tool for outscaling CSA practices

Participatory scenario planning (PSP)

This is a tool was developed by the Adaptation Learning Program (ALP) of CARE International, for collective sharing and interpretation of climate forecasts. PSP is conducted as soon as a seasonal climate forecast is available from the meteorological services, meaning it occurs as many times in the year as there are rainy seasons in that particular area.

“You cannot talk about climate resilience and climate-smart if you are not factoring climate information into your decision making and planning process, and this is especially because of new risks and challenges that communities are facing,” said Maureen Ambani, a Climate Communications Advisor for the ALP, during the webinar.

Learn more: Decision-making for climate resilient livelihoods and risk reduction: A Participatory Scenario Planning approach

Target CSA

This is a decision support tool developed by scientists at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) to target CSA practices. It is used on a national and regional scale to identify regions that show high vulnerability to climate change and simultaneously show characteristics that make it feasible to implement CSA activities.

“Target CSA combines two concepts, multidimensional vulnerability and climate-smart agriculture concepts. It works with vulnerability indicators on the one hand and with proxy data that refers to certain climate-smart practices that are included in the targeting process,” said Patric Brandt, a PhD student based at CIFOR.

Learn more about TargetCSA tool: Exploring targeting options for climate-smart agricultural investments in Kenya


Generally, there was a huge interest in the topic CSA tools for Africa. A total of 470 people signed up for the webinar with slightly over one third attending the event. The PSP tool has similarities in approach with the CSA-RA because both tools emphasize participatory approaches at community and district levels. The TargetCSA , CSA-PF and CSA Compendium tools target policy makers at national and regional levels with regards to prioritization. All tools present opportunities for collaborations in the out scaling of CSA in Africa and the world at large.

Combined Presentations for climate-smart agriculture (CSA) Tools for Africa webinar

A recording of the webinar is available here. Follow up questions can be directed to

Additional reading: Collaborative initiative to outscale climate-smart agriculture


The Climate and Agriculture Network is an initiative of CCAFS East Africa program and partners. CCAFS EA is based at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in Nairobi Kenya.


Leave a Reply