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FEATURE STORY March 7, 2019

This Is What It’s All About: Building Resilience and Adapting to Climate Change in Africa


Climate change threatens to push millions of Africans into poverty by 2030 and unravel hard-won development gains. Many African countries have made significant development achievements in the last few decades with annual growth averaging 4.5 percent, but increasing weather, water, and climate risks threaten these gains. During this time, natural disasters have affected over 460 million people and resulted in more than 880,000 casualties. In the face of increasing climate-related risks, African countries must urgently scale up adaption and resilience measures.



The World Bank Group is stepping up its efforts to help countries adapt to a changing climate through its first ever Adaptation and Resilience Action Plan. Under the plan, the Bank Group will ramp up direct adaptation climate finance to reach $50 billion over 2021-2025, drive a mainstreamed, whole-of-government approach and develop a new rating system to promote public and private sector investments in adaptation.

The Action Plan builds on the link between adaptation and development by promoting effective climate smart early actions that provide positive development outcomes.

From improved seeds to agroforestry, climate-smart agriculture can be deployed to increase the resilience of smallholder farmers to climate extremes. Diversifying food production and establishing social protection mechanisms can also increase the socio-economic resilience of rural populations so they are less vulnerable to shocks. Agricultural technology could also impact how well farmers mitigate and adapt to climate change. For example, integrated weather and market advisories using big data analytics can help inform farmers’ decisions on what to grow, when to plant and harvest, how to allocate their labor and where to sell their produce – increasing their yields and income in a changing climate.



  • The West Africa Agricultural Productivity Program has helped develop climate-smart varieties of staple crops, such as rice, banana plantain and maize.  The program has directly helped more than 9 million people and more than 4 million hectares of land be more productive and resilient and contribute to lowering GHG emissions. Beneficiary yields and incomes have grown by an average of 30%, improving food security for about 50 million people in the region.
  • The World Bank Group’s West Africa Coastal Areas Program provides countries with access to technical expertise and finance to support sustainable development in the coastal zone, using management of coastal erosion and hazardous flooding as an entry point. The program aims to boost the transfer of knowledge, foster political dialogue among countries, and mobilize additional finance to tackle coastal erosion, flooding, and climate change adaptation on the West African coast.
  • The Africa Hydromet Program is a partnership of development organizations working to improve weather, water, and climate services throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Hydromet services provide real-time early warning and climate data critically needed for adaptation and resilient development. The program is set to modernize hydromet services in 15 African countries and four regional climate centers during its first phase. The total amount of World Bank hydromet investments, including projects active and in the pipeline, is about $900 million.
  • The Disaster Risk Financing and Insurance Program (DRFIP) helps countries ensure that their citizens are financially protected in the event of a disaster. Through funding and expertise, DRFI supports countries to develop and implement tailored financial protection strategies that enable national and local governments, homeowners, businesses, agricultural producers, and low-income populations to respond more quickly and resiliently to disasters.
  • In Malawi, the World Bank is supporting the government’s Shire River Basin Management Program to improve land and water management for ecosystem and livelihoods in the Shire River Basin – the single most important natural resource in Malawi. Almost half a million people have directly benefited from program through improved water management, as well as ecological.
  • In Somalia the World Bank is working on the Somali Water for Agropastoral Livelihoods Pilot using a grant of US$2 million from the State and Peace-Building Fund to help the successful completion of sand dams in Somaliland and Puntland. These structures have supplied over 42,000 people with improved access for human consumption, livestock watering, startup and/or expansion of small-scale vegetable gardening, agroforestry, and other associated uses. The new water points are also providing water to 200,000 livestock.
  • The World Bank, in partnership with the African Union Commission and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, organizes the Africa Climate Resilient Investment Summit. Bringing together participation from governments, planners, academics, private developers, and technology and service providers, the objectives are to share emerging best practices and promote the delivery of resilience to help the region step up on climate action.