Agroforestry: An adaptation measure for sub-Saharan African food systems in response to increased weather extremes due to climate change

AbstractThis paper examines the impact of increasing weather extremes due to climate change on African food systems. The specific focus lies on agroforestry adaptation measures that can be applied by smallholder farmers to protect their livelihoods and to make their food production more resilient against the effects of those weather extremes. The adoption potentials for agroforestry is evaluated, taking into consideration regional environmental and socio-economic differences, and possible barriers for adoption with respect to extrinsic and intrinsic factors are outlined. According to the indicators that approximate extrinsic factors, a high adoption potential for agroforestry is likely to be found in Angola, Botswana, Cameroon, Cabo Verde, Gabon, Ghana, Mauritania and Senegal. A very low potential exists in Somalia, Eritrea, South Sudan and Rwanda.


Several decades of scientific work on a better understanding of the earth’s climate system have led to increasing certainty that changes in the climate system are influenced by human activity. As the 5th Assessment Report of the IPCC notes, there is 95% confidence that the increase in global surface temperature is caused by the anthropogenic increase in greenhouse gas concentrations (Stocker, 2013). As a result, more extreme weather occurrences have been predicted for many regions for the upcoming decades. Successfully coping with changes in weather patterns requires mitigation measures for future GHG emissions reductions along with adaptation measures, the latter adopted particularly in those regions that will be severely affected by future weather extremes.

In most of the developed Annex I countries, a well-functioning governance system provides financial resources and institutional stability for potentially large-scale investments in adaptation and mitigation measures within th