Guest post: Lessons from Africa on climate change adaptation


The Earth’s changing climate is already having major consequences for the environment and society. While these impacts highlight the need to cut greenhouse gas emissions, they also show that communities around the world will need to adapt to manage the changes around them.

But agreeing on and implementing adaptation decisions can be complex, requiring careful consideration of multiple factors and perspectives, plus balancing different priorities over different timescales. 

The demand for information and guidance to support this process is growing fast, and is highlighting the need for new sources and formats of data – as well as more innovative ways of engaging with the people that will use it.

But there are no blueprints for this learning process. Instead, we have to make progress through trial and improvement. In this article, we unpack insights from a new open-access book on building adaptation and resilience in Africa.

The book presents applications where climate information can be used to inform adaptation and includes examples of early warning systems, river basin development, urban planning and rural livelihoods.

Here, we focus on two case studies. One shows how “participatory scenario planning” has been used with seasonal climate forecasts in Malawi to generate information for farmers. The other engages with city planners in Zambia’s capital Lusaka to develop a strategic plan for the city.