Climate Change Adaptation in Southern Africa: Linking science studies and policy decisions to drive evidence-based action

Climate change poses a real risk to the future of farming and food security in southern Africa. Crop yields in the region, especially for staples (e.g. maize), are already low: about 35% less than the global average. In the past 10 years, several climate change research studies (Gbetibouo and Hassan, 2005; Fischer et al., 2005; Abraha and Savage, 2006; Liu et al., 2008; Thornton et al., 2011) have been commissioned to assess the impacts of climate change on food security, agriculture and natural resources development. These studies are invaluable in building the knowledge base for designing and implementing current and future adaptation strategies, especially in areas with highly vulnerable populations, such as southern Africa.

Adaptation to climate change is most critical for Africa where rural livelihoods are subject to multiple shocks and stresses that can increase vulnerability. A key strategy for managing risk and vulnerability associated with climate change is developing and implementing evidence-based policies and programmes that respond to local realities and priorities.

This policy brief presents findings from a review of recent studies on the impacts of climate change on crops in southern Africa (as presented in Zinyengere et al., 2012). These findings are then used to give recommendations on adaptation science and adaptation policies.