Sign Up for Updates

   Info and options

Core Program Areas

Agriculture Education Emergencies Health HIV and AIDS Microfinance Peacebuilding Water and Sanitation

Cross-Cutting Areas

Capacity Strengthening Climate Change ICT4D IHD Monitoring and Evaluation Youth

Adapting to the Sahel's Changing Climate: Local Approaches; An Economic and Technical Feasibility Analysis of Adaptation Techniques in Niger, Burkina Faso and Mali

Adapting to the Sahel's Changing Climate: Local Approaches; An Economic and Technical Feasibility Analysis of Adaptation Techniques in Niger, Burkina Faso and Mali   

This report assesses the threats that climate change poses for vulnerable populations and ecosystems in Niger, Burkina Faso and Mali. The report identifies adaptation strategies. It also proposes climate-smart agricultural technologies and strategies.

Catholic Relief Services commissioned Tulane University’s Disaster Resilience Leadership Academy to write this report. The project is part of the Building Resilience and Adaptation to Climate Extremes and Disasters (BRACED) program funded by DFID.

Download the PDF (2.7 MB)


Executive summary

This report has been commissioned as part of a series of studies being undertaken by CRS that is to inform design of new activities under CRS’ Consortium SUR1M initiative. SUR1M is one of 10 projects across the Sahel Region provisionally approved by the DFIDfunded Building Resiliency and Adaptation to Climate Extremes and Disasters (BRACED) umbrella program. The report assesses climate change threats and their impacts on vulnerable populations and ecosystems, identifies adaptation strategies, and proposes climate smart agricultural (CSA) technologies and strategies to address the overarching objectives of the BRACED program. Analysis includes an economic and technical feasibility study of CSA practices to support recuperation of degraded lands, soil and water management, and sustainable agriculture and pastoralism.

Recommendations are proposed, based on a 45-day study in three targeted zones of high vulnerability to food insecurity in Burkina Faso, Niger, and Mali. The report pays special attention to the most inclusive and appropriate practices to maximize both men’s and women’s participation and benefits. The study covers 20 villages in 16 communes in the Sahel Region of Burkina Faso, the Tillaberi Region of Niger, and the Gao Region of Mali, using key informant interviews (KII), focus group discussions (FGD), and a structured Village Leaders Survey (VLS). Analyses examine adaptation strategies using three key variables: (1) gender, (2) proximity to markets, and (3) proximity to water sources (rivers or large streams).

Key findings

Analysis of climate smart agriculture techniques by gender

Among crop and soil management practices identified in the study, men accounted for nearly 60 percent of all practices cited, women accounting for the remaining 40 percent. Water management strategies were notably few, and no significant disparities in water technology use by gender were found. Livestock management practices focused largely on three areas: intensive animal fattening, fodder storage, and fodder production. Men engaged in nearly 64 percent of all livestock management techniques identified, particularly cattle fattening, while women, accounting for 36 percent, specialize primarily in sheep fattening and grass production. The most common forestry adaptation practices were agroforestry, farmer managed natural regeneration (FMNR), and reforestation. Overall, 65 percent of all forestry management techniques cited were undertaken by men, 35 percent by women.

Analysis climate smart agriculture techniques by proximity to markets and rivers

In comparing market proximity to crop and soil management techniques across the three study areas, a total of 89 practices were cited, of which nearly 61 percent were in villages within relative proximity (5 kilometers) of a market. Thus, market location may play some role in shaping diversification strategies deployed to manage crops, soils, and water. When comparing all agricultural practices (crops, water, livestock, forestry) across the three study regions, nearly 60 percent occurred in villages close to a market.

Proximity to a river appears to influence the diversification of crop and soil management strategies. Nearly 67 percent of crop and soil management practices were in villages close to a river.

Cost benefit analysis of climate change adaptation techniques

Of 35 techniques inventoried, composting provides relatively high economic benefits, relative to costs. In terms of livestock adaptation strategies, intensive goat fattening proves to be a relatively profitable activity when compared to intensive fattening of cows and sheep.


Findings support actionable items to strengthen ecosystem and livelihood resilience. A large-scale sustainable landscapes approach emphasizing ecosystem resilience should be a guiding principle and cornerstone of SUR1M. Watershed restoration is needed to address the underlying causes that drive environmental decline and land degradation in the study zone. Proposed interventions include the bio-recovery of degraded lands (BDL) through fodder production, a mix of trees, stone bunds, and grass hedges, and non-timber forest products (NTFPs).

Livelihood resilience can be strengthened through the promotion of various CSA practices that should be introduced as an integrated package. These include a mix of zai, compost, stone bunds, and improved seed, composting, fertilizer micro dosage, and inventory credit and warehouse receipts (‘warrantage’). Seed access and distribution should be promoted through innovative, decentralized, community-based models such as master/lead farmers, APS (Agents Prestataires de Services), Farmer Field Schools, micro-enterprise based agro-vet dealers who serve as village-based agronomic extension agents, and suppliers of inputs such as seed in small quantities affordable to the farmer.

One of the most salient findings of the study is the very low use of, or access to, water resource technologies. Well technology, particularly deep boreholes, would greatly benefit both humans and animals throughout the region. Due to cost limitations, alternative, low-cost manual pump technologies may prove the most cost-effective.

Animal fattening, fodder production, and storage should be supported under SUR1M. Intensive feeding of cows, sheep, and goats serves as one of the primary activities for generating family income, and serving as a social safety net during periods of acute environmental or economic stress. Fodder production has the potential to significantly improve livestock productivity, while also meeting environmental objectives of protecting and enhancing soil quality. Improved fodder storage technology should be researched and promoted as a low cost intervention that could boost feed quality for animals.

Tree crops with a clear NTFP market value should be promoted. FMNR requires very little, if any, capital outlays, builds upon already existing local knowledge and practice, and would be the most technically and economically feasible strategy to pursue in promoting adaptive forestry management capacity.

SUR1M should promote climate ‘neutral’ livelihood activities that are less dependent on scarce rainfall in a semi-arid region. This might include small-scale artisanal activities, such as soap production and other artifacts or handicrafts that could be marketed to the larger urban centers, skilled trades such as sewing, and other microenterprise activities where strong demand for a market product can be identified.


Executive summary 1
Acronyms 4
1. Introduction 6
2. Study Methodology 12
3. Research Context 18
4. Key Findings 42
5. Recommendations 90
Annexes 90


Publication details

Authors: Tulane University's Disaster Resilience Leadership Academy (DRLA) Research Team, Apollo Nkwake, John Magistro, Peter Horjust
Publisher: Catholic Relief Services (September 2014)
Report: 128 pages
Language: English
Dimensions: 8.5 x 11 inches

Posted on September 22, 2014

Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>