Building climate resilience through rainfed agriculture in the African context

25 August 2021


Climate change increases rainfall variability, droughts, floods & increases in average temperature, making rainfed agriculture – the vast majority of African agriculture – more vulnerable. There is significant opportunity to unlock the potential of enhanced rainfed agriculture, thus building climate resilience and moving farmers beyond subsistence farming towards sustainable livelihoods. 
Regenerating the rural economies of Africa is a complex process that will take time. However, it will only be effective if water is available. Given that 95 per cent of cultivable land and agricultural activity is rainfed in Africa, approaches should target green water and enhanced rainfed agriculture.
The reality is that 85% of staple food in Africa comes from rainfed agriculture production and yet this sector receives little attention from policymakers and investors. Plot sizes may be small, but the cumulative impact of millions of farmers makes them frontline water managers who through their practices can reduce soil erosion and increase infiltration of rainfall, in turn recharging groundwater and reducing sedimentation of surface water bodies. In this session, we learn of an innovative approach being taken by the Zambezi watercourse Commission where rainfed agriculture is included as a focus area in their recently approved Strategic Plan for the watercourse.

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