Food and Water Security Under Global Change: Developing Adaptive Capacity with a Focus on Rural Africa

Published on 5 August 2010

Research Areas





Start Date: 5 March 2007 | End Date: 31 January 2009


Over the coming decades, global change will have an impact on food and water security in significant and highly uncertain ways, and there are strong indications that developing countries will bear the brunt of the adverse consequences, particularly from climate change. This is largely because poverty levels are high, and developing-country capacity to adapt to global change is weak. Furthermore, the rural populations of developing countries—for whom agricultural production is the primary source of direct and indirect employment and income—will be most affected due to agriculture’s vulnerability to global change processes. The agricultural sector is the largest consumer of water resources, and variability in water supply has a major influence on health and welfare in poor areas. With water scarcity and extreme weather events expected to increase under climate change, water security could decline significantly in rural areas. Consequently, it is important to understand the impacts of global change (in terms of climate, demography, technology, and so on) on agriculture and natural resources in developing countries and to develop adaptive capacity to respond to these impacts. Moreover, there is a need to develop informed and effective adaptation measures and investment options that can be taken now to alleviate adverse impacts of global change in the future.The CPWF’s project goal is “Development of capacity to adapt to global change in developing countries.” The purpose is to provide policymakers and stakeholders in Ethiopia and South Africa, particularly farmers and other rural stakeholders who face the largest impact from global change, with tools to better understand, analyze, and form policy decisions that will allow them to adapt to global change. Results are also useful to other areas in Africa and elsewhere that face similar impacts from global climate change. The project produced outputs in six areas:

(1)    Characterization of Vulnerability and Adaptive Capacity with Local Partners and Stakeholders (Ethiopia and South Africa);

(2)    Identification of Determinants of Partners and Stakeholders;

(3)    Development of Integrated Policy Analysis Tools with Partners;

(4)     Assessment of the impacts of global change on rural Africa, in general, and on Ethiopia and South Africa, in particular, and analysis of response options developed in Ethiopian and South African study sites based on the integrated policy analysis tool;

(5)    Development of General Directions for Adaptation and Rural Africa and the Developing World; and Specific Strategies for Ethiopia and South Africa Together with Local Partners and Wide Dissemination of Research Results; and

(6)    Enhanced National and International Capacity for climate change and economic policy analysis through training of PhD students.To develop these outputs, research under this project was conducted in two river basins in two countries in Sub-Saharan Africa; the Limpopo Basin in South Africa and the Nile River Basin in Ethiopia. Additional research activities were implemented at the national levels in Ethiopia and South Africa and at the regional level for all of Sub-Saharan Africa.


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