July 2018, Issue no. 10 - Resilience Intel - How does innovation build climate resilience in the Sahel?

Natasha Grist

For farmers everywhere, and especially in the Sahel, innovation is a way of life, as they adapt and change farm practices to increase yields and decrease work inputs. With climate change posing increased risks, community and farm innovations that build climate resilience will help support and enhance the lives of many marginalised people. This paper examines five innovations from the BRACED programme working with vulnerable Sahelian populations, drawing lessons for other resilience-building efforts.


• In the case of the Sahel, innovation is central to improving farming families’ incomes, farm and livestock yields, wellbeing and even survival in the face of climate shocks and cumulative stresses.

• Innovations that build people’s capacities to respond to climate changes include enabling access to better information and technical knowledge, introducing financial innovations, integrating climate information into farmers’ planning and social innovations.

• Innovating is a risky business: some innovations will fail or take longer and need more investment and leadership than initially planned. However, not innovating is riskier still in the face of changes to come.

• Monitoring how effectively resilience is built is an inexact science, but development partners need to demonstrate and compare the effectiveness of their programmes. Quantitative data on outputs and activities needs to be supplemented with triangulated narratives on improvements in choices, context and lives.