AGRICA – Climate risk analyses for adaptation planning in sub-Saharan Africa

The AGRICA project is implemented by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) in cooperation with the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Developement (BMZ).

Context and objective

While most countries recognise the importance of adaptation to climate change, there is limited access to reliable information on climate impacts and risks which should inform the selection of adaptation strategies. This is also true for the operationalisation of adaptation goals which are defined in Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and National Adaptation Plans (NAPs): How to translate adaptation goals into concrete actions? Hence, there is a need for science-based adaptation planning which requires sound climate risk analyses and assessment of potential adaptation strategies. To address this issue, the AGRICA project provides comprehensive climate risk analyses for the agricultural sector in selected countries in sub-Saharan Africa. The findings are meant to inform national and sub-national adaptation planning including NDC and NAP development and review processes but will also provide useful information and evidence to decision makers at other planning and implementation levels.

Publication formats

AGRICA currently focuses on the development of two publication formats: in-depth climate risk analyses and shorter climate risk profiles. Climate risk analyses are detailed scientific reports accompanied by a summary for policy makers and a methods factsheet, while the climate risk profiles are short briefs including a methods factsheet. The climate risk analyses are intended to inform decision makers from governments, international institutions, civil society, academia and the private sector regarding the risks of climate change impacts and provide guidance in effective adaptation planning at national and sub-national level. The climate risk profiles focus on climate impacts and risks, providing an easy to read snapshot.

Climate Risk Analyses

Climate risk analyses are in-depth scientific reports which consist of an impact dimension and an action dimension, providing a thorough assessment of different adaptation strategies for the agricultural sector. In the impact dimension, the analyses start out by modelling the full impact chain, including a changing climate, changing water availability and resulting climate impacts on the agricultural sector. The changing climate and weather-related risks are analysed from a historic, current and future perspective, based on different greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions scenarios. Indicators focus on temperature and rainfall including for example air temperature, number of very hot days and nights, average rainfall and days with heavy rainfall. The impact dimension is complemented by a vulnerability analysis which looks at the spatial distribution of exposure, adaptive capacity and sensitivity to climate impacts. In the action dimension, this information is used to identify and analyse suitable adaptation strategies. Adaptation strategies are carefully selected, with assessment criteria including feasibility, cost-effectiveness, biophysical performance and aptitude for local conditions. Climate risk analyses offer an in-depth risk analysis based on the latest scientific data and findings and serve as a solid basis upon which to design policy processes and make concrete adaptation decisions in partner countries.

To support an inclusive research process and to ensure that the results of AGRICA will be useful on the ground, the project puts a special emphasis on a continuous engagement of local stakeholders operating in the partner countries and districts. Stakeholders are engaged through regular consultations, workshops, joint selection of study foci and other forms of active engagement and mutual exchange.

As of now, national-level climate risk analyses have been completed for Ghana and Ethiopia and can be found in the Downloads section. Further analyses are currently being developed for Burkina Faso and Niger, in addition to a district-level analysis for Ghana’s Upper West Region. While much of climate policy and planning occurs at the national level, the district level is equally important since many decisions regarding climate adaptation are ultimately made by extension officers and farmers.

The different modules of the in-depth climate risk analyses follow a set of core components but can be adapted in a flexible manner depending on the national context and level of analysis.

Climate risk profiles

Climate risk profiles are short, easy to read briefs, providing a condensed overview of present and future climate impacts and climate risks at national level for relevant sectors in partner countries. The profiles thereby focus on evolving trends for future climate conditions under two greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions scenarios, including projected changes in temperature, rainfall, sea level rise, soil moisture and potential evapotranspiration. In addition, the sector-specific risk assessments focus on climate impacts on water resources, agriculture, infrastructure, ecosystems and human health. CRPs offer a sound risk analysis based on the latest scientific data and findings and have great potential for climate mainstreaming into relevant policy processes of partner countries. The profiles are divided into four sections: a summary, an introduction, projected climate trends and sector-specific risk assessments. CRPs are brief (12 pages) and use an easy language to guarantee a high uptake for decision making.

As of now, climate risk profiles have been completed for Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Mali and Niger. Further climate risk profiles are currently being developed for Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritania, Tanzania and Uganda.

Why sub-Saharan Africa?

In many developing and least developed countries (LDCs), economic development continues to be largely dependent on the agricultural sector. This is particularly true for sub-Saharan Africa, where agriculture contributes up to 50 % of countries’ GDP and where up to 90 % of the population are employed in the agricultural sector, mostly as smallholder subsistence farmers. These farmers heavily rely on agriculture for food security and livelihoods. However, agricultural production is increasingly threatened by the impacts of climate change: Temperatures are rising, while the amount of rainfall is decreasing. Extreme weather events such as droughts, floods and storms are becoming more frequent in terms of intensity and number, presenting a risk to agricultural production and food security. These climatic changes are accompanied by rapid population growth: Almost anywhere across sub-Saharan Africa, populations are growing at an annual rate of 2.5-3 % so theoretically, more people will have to be fed with less food.

Many countries need better information to address these and other climate-related challenges. The AGRICA project seeks to bridge this information gap and to provide scientific evidence to support the design of adaptation policies and strategies and to take investment decisions based on comprehensive risk assessments.

Project duration

First phase: September 2018 – December 2020
Second phase: January 2021 – December 2023

Contact

For detailed information on the AGRICA project as well as on opportunities for collaboration and participation, please contact:

Dr. Christoph Gornott (Project Lead at PIK)

T +49 (0)331 288 2655
gornott@pik-potsdam.de
P.O. Box 60 12 03
14412 Potsdam

Ethiopia: Crop insurance

While most adaptation strategies seek to minimise risks stemming from climate change, not all risks can be eliminated. Weather perils, such as droughts, storms or erratic precipitation represent so-called systemic risks that go beyond the farmers’ or communities’ coping ability. Thus, mechanisms are needed that distribute risk to avoid that certain groups or individuals are particularly affected and lose their livelihoods. One of such risk transfer solutions is crop insurance, which allows farmers to insure their crop yields against weather-induced losses. It is also a risk-specific adaptation strategy, which becomes irrelevant in the absence of weather and climate risks. While insurance usually is based on indemnity-assessment, with smallholder farmers this model is problematic due to the high transaction costs such an insurance scheme entails, e.g. for claim disbursements. Thus, a more suitable approach for smallholder farmers are weather index-based insurances (WII), a scheme that uses a weather index, such as temperature or precipitation to determine a payout. Alternative index-based insurance schemes can also be useful, such as area-yield index insurance.

Index insurance schemes for crops and livestock have been developed and tested in several pilot schemes in Ethiopia, but are not widely implemented yet. There is continued interest and engagement from within the country to further promote insurance solutions for the agricultural sector. For example, the Japan International Agency for Cooperation (JICA) recently launched a new “Index-based Crop Insurance Promotion (ICIP) project” in 2019 together with the Ministry of Agriculture and the Oromia Bureau of Agriculture and Natural Resources (OBoANR) (JICA, 2019). The programme is expected to cover 20,000 farmers in the Oromia region over the next five years.

During expert and stakeholder interviews conducted for this study, there was wide consensus that crop and livestock insurance has a low uptake in Ethiopia as of yet, and is regarded as having only limited upscaling potential in the country. Accordingly, interest in insurance among interviewees, survey and workshop participants was low, which may, however, be rather an expression of difficult implementation of insurance schemes than of general lack of interest, as the in-depth interviews revealed. Thus, there appears to be a need for further research on how to effectively operationalise insurance in Ethiopia and how to ensure better uptake and sustainability.

Table 5: Potential co-benefits and maladaptive outcomes from crop insurance.

In sum, crop insurance can be considered an important adaptation strategy, because it can address risk, which cannot be mitigated in an economically sensible way with physical adaptation measures and acts as a safety net for farmers in times of extreme weather events. However, premium costs may not be affordable for farmers, requiring financial support in order to increase uptake.

References

  • Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). (2019). Index-based Insurance to benefit Small-holder Farmers through JICA Project. Retrieved June 13, 2019, from https://www.jica.go.jp/ ethiopia/english/office/topics/190419.html.

Ghana: Post-harvest management

Effective post-harvest management is crucial to avoid food loss along the value chain. Investments in scaling technologies for improved post-harvest management have high potential for reducing crop losses, also and especially under climate change. With climate change altering growing and harvesting seasons, post-harvest management is important to cope with increased uncertainty. It is a risk-reducing strategy that lowers the vulnerability of crop production to climate impacts. Next to main staple crops such as maize and beans, post-harvest loss (PHL) of easily perishable horticulture crops could be avoided. Numerous effective and low-cost technologies exist that can prevent or reduce PHL.

Ghana’s NDC Implementation and Investment plan lists post-harvest management as a priority for adapting agriculture to climate change, with interviews confirming wide-spread interest in such strategies. A concrete post-harvest technology with promising results in the context of maize production in Ghana have been so-called PICS bags (Purdue Improved Cowpea Storage): simple and affordable yet effective hermetic storage bags originally developed for storing cowpea. Implementation of improved post-harvest management strategies can be recommended across the country as a low-hanging fruit, since better post-harvest management can increase agricultural production considerably.

Furthermore, as the economic analysis confirmed, most post-harvest management measures are rather low cost interventions, with most intervention types being “no regret” strategies because even in the absence of climate change, the improvement in crop handling will lead to lower crop losses and higher agricultural output, being economically sensible. Figure 1 shows the net value of maize production under different post-harvest management scenarios, compared to scenarios of maize production without adaptation – both with (CC) and without climate change (BAS). Except for the highest cost scenario (MAX), all other PHM scenarios do not only make up for the maize losses under climate change, but are also able to surpass maize production under the baseline scenario (without climate change and without adaptation). This shows their high economic viability.

Figure 1: Net value of maize production in Ghana with different PHM scenarios, compared to no adaptation and no climate change (in million USD).

Overall, post-harvest management strategies have considerable potential in Ghana and, being an often low-cost and no-regret strategy, can be recommended for wider implementation.

Ghana: Climate

Temperature

Figure 2: Air temperature projections for Ghana for different GHG emissions scenarios, relative to the year 1876.

In response to increasing greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations, air temperature over Ghana is projected to rise by 0.7 – 2.7°C (very likely range) by 2080 relative to year 2000, depending on the future GHG emissions scenario. Compared to 2000 levels, median climate model temperature increases over Ghana amount to approximately 0.8°C in 2030, 1.1°C in 2050, and 1.2°C in 2080 under the low emissions scenario RCP2.6. Under the medium/high emissions scenario RCP6.0, median climate model temperature increases amount to 1.0°C in 2030, 1.5°C in 2050, and 2.3°C in 2080.

Very hot days

Figure 3: Projections of the annual number of very hot days (daily maximum temperature greater than 35 °C) for Ghana for different GHG emissions scenarios.

In line with rising annual mean temperatures, the annual number of very hot days (days with daily maximum temperature greater than 35°C) is projected to rise substantially in particular over northern Ghana. Under the medium/high emission scenario RCP6.0, on average over all of Ghana, the median climate model projects 34 more very hot days per year in 2030 than in 2000, 55 more in 2050, and 94 more in 2080. In some parts, especially in the North of Ghana, this amounts to about 300 days per year by 2080.

Sea level rise

Figure 4: Sea level rise projections for the coast of Ghana for different GHG emissions scenarios, relative to the year 2000.

In response to globally increasing temperatures, the sea level off the coast of Ghana is projected to rise. Until 2050, very similar sea levels are projected under different GHG emissions scenarios. Under RCP6.0 and compared to year 2000 levels, the median climate model projects a sea level rise by 11 cm in 2030, 20 cm in 2050, and 39 cm in 2080. This threatens Ghana’s coastal communities and may cause saline intrusion in coastal waterways and groundwater reserves.

Precipitation

Figure 5: Annual mean precipitation projections for Ghana for different GHG emissions scenarios, relative to the year 2000.

Future projections of precipitation are substantially more uncertain than projections of temperature or sea level rise. Detecting trends in annual mean precipitation projections is complicated by large natural variability at multi-decadal time scales and considerable modelling uncertainty (Figure 5). Of the four climate models underlying this analysis, one projects a decline in annual mean precipitation over Ghana. According to the other three models, there will be no change. Therefore, our best estimate is that there will be almost no change in total precipitation per year until 2080 irrespective of the emissions scenario, yet this result is highly uncertain.

Heavy precipitation events

Figure 6: Projections of the number of days with heavy precipitation over Ghana for different GHG emissions scenarios.

In response to global warming, extreme precipitation events are expected to become more intense in many parts of the world due to the increased water vapor holding capacity of a warmer atmosphere. At the same time, the number of days with heavy precipitation is expected to increase. This tendency is also found in climate projections for Ghana, with climate models projecting a slight increase in the number of days with heavy precipitation events, from 7 days/year in 2000 to 8 days/year under RCP2.6 or 9 days/year under RCP6.0 by 2080. Central Ghana is subject to increased heavy precipitation, while for the far north, no change is projected by the multi-model mean.

Soil moisture

Figure 7: Soil moisture projections for Ghana for different GHG emissions scenarios, relative to the year 2000.

Soil moisture is an important indicator for drought conditions. In addition to soil parameters, it depends on both precipitation and evapotranspiration and therefore also on temperature as higher temperature translates to higher potential evapotranspiration. Annual mean top 1-m soil moisture projections for Ghana show a decreasing tendency. This tendency is stronger than the corresponding precipitation change projections, which reflects the influence of temperature rise on evapotranspiration.

Potential evapotranspiration

Figure 8: Potential evapotranspiration projections for Ghana for different GHG emissions scenarios, relative to the year 2000.

Potential evapotranspiration is the amount of water that would be evaporated and transpired if there were sufficient water available at and below the land surface. Since warmer air can hold more water vapor, it is expected that global warming will increase potential evapotranspiration in most regions of the world. In line with this expectation, hydrology projections for Ghana indicate a stronger rise of potential evapotranspiration under RCP6.0 than under RCP2.6. Specifically, under RCP6.0, compared to year 2000 levels, potential evapotranspiration is projected to increase by 3.2% in 2030, 4.6% in 2050, and 7.4% in 2080.

Ghana: Crop insurance

While most adaptation strategies seek to minimize risks stemming from climate change, not all risks can be eliminated. Weather perils such as droughts, storms or erratic precipitation represent so-called systemic risks that go beyond the farmers’ coping ability. Thus, mechanisms are needed that distribute residual risks to avoid that certain groups or individuals lose their livelihoods. One such risk transfer solution is crop insurance, which allows farmers to insure their crop yields against weather-induced losses. While insurance usually is based on indemnity assessment, this model is problematic for smallholder farmers due to the high transaction costs which insurance schemes usually entail. Thus, a more suitable approach for smallholder farmers are weather index-based insurances (WII), a scheme that uses a weather index, such as precipitation, to determine a payout. Alternative index-based insurance schemes can also be useful, such as area-yield index insurance.

Generally, insurance schemes are rather costly adaptation strategies, at least when considering the overall costs and with progressing climate change increasing the overall risk to the agricultural sector. However, insurance schemes have an important role to play for securing livelihoods: They can stabilize farm incomes and can prove to be very cost-effective for farmers when a hazard occurs.

According to the Ghana Agricultural Insurance Pool (GAIP), area-yield index insurance (AYII) as an alternative to WII has shown the biggest potential for smallholder farmers in Ghana as of yet. GAIP is a pioneer in implementing AYII in Ghana, insuring since 2011 successfully some 3000 – 4000 smallholder farmers’ cereal crops[1] on over 18,000 acres of land. In 2017, GAIP made payouts to nearly half its insured parties.

Although AYII is a promising development, farmers’ uptake of AYII in Ghana remains limited. Balmalssaka et al. (2016), who examined the willingness of farmers in northern Ghana to participate in insurance schemes, found access to credit as well as education and experience with insurance to be important factors determining farmers’ engagement with crop insurance (Balmalssaka et al., 2016).

This indicates the need for additional incentives or financial support for taking out insurance, underlined also by Aidoo et al. (2014) who determined farmers’ willingness to pay for crop insurance in one municipality in Ghana. He concluded there was a need for government subsidies to implement it in the country (Aidoo et al., 2014). While subsidies are one strategy, experts also suggested to bundle insurance with inputs, where possible, to increase uptake.

Overall, crop insurance is a promising strategy for transferring climate risk also in Ghana. There is high interest in Ghana and demand-based roll-out of insurance pilots can be recommended. However, careful design is crucial to ensure affordability and financial sustainability.

[1] The main insured crops are: maize, sorghum, millet and groundnut.

References

  • Aidoo, R., James, O., Prosper, W., & Awunyo-Vitor, D., (2014). Prospects of crop insurance as a risk management tool among arable crop farmers in Ghana. Asian Economic and Financial Review, 4(3), 341–354.
  • Balmalssaka, Y., Wumbei, B. L., Buckner, J., & Nartey, R. Y., (2016). Willingness to participate in the market for crop drought index insurance among farmers in Ghana. African Journal of Agricultural Research, Vol. 11(14), 1257–1265.

Adaptation to climate change in Ghana

Many options exist for farmers in Ghana to adapt to climate change. In the climate risk analysis for Ghana conducted within the Agrica project, five promising adaptation strategies were analysed in detail: crop insurance, post-harvest management, irrigation, rainwater harvesting and improved crop varieties. Those strategies were selected based on stakeholder interest, links to existing climate change adaptation plans in Ghana and suitability for analysis within crop models. Yet, they only present a small subset of possible and suitable adaptation strategies, in addition to them, many different adaptation strategies can be useful and the local context and communities’ needs are key for ultimately deciding on the strategies to pursue. The strategies portrayed are thus meant as indications only, for which adaptation measures may provide a useful start and hold potential at a wider scale.

Post-harvest management can be recommended for wider implementation across Ghana, as the analysis shows high potential for upscaling and attainment of adaptation goals. Crop insurance is particularly well-suited for upscaling and, as a risk-transfer strategy, crucial for complementing risk-reduction measures, which equally can be recommended for uptake in the whole of Ghana. Rainwater harvesting is a low-cost strategy with potential for autonomous uptake and additional agricultural production. Both improved crop varieties and irrigation are rather costly strategies, requiring much institutional support. Their implementation feasibility and suitability varies according to location in Ghana, irrigation is generally only recommended for areas suffering from insufficient or highly variable precipitation levels but can offer improved agricultural production levels in dry areas, if other water use interests can be reconciled with water demand for irrigation. Improved crop varieties are judged to have better prospects for transforming agriculture, also given the mostly sufficient precipitation levels in Ghana. However, improved seeds always need to cater to the requirements of local agro-ecologies, thus they cannot be recommended for the whole of Ghana. Employing multiple adaptation strategies can be useful, especially the combination of risk-reducing and risk-transferring strategies is promising. Risk-reduction measures like irrigation and improved crop varieties are important for addressing risk that can be mitigated, whereas risk-transfer strategies such as insurance are needed for managing risk that cannot be reduced.

This evaluation is only to be viewed as a careful model-based and expert assessment, which can by no means replace a thorough analysis for specific project design and local implementation planning. It gives an indication of the overall feasibility and suitability of the selected adaptation strategies in Ghana. Actual selection of adaptation strategies, however, should always be based on specific needs and interests of local communities.

Crop insurance

While most adaptation strategies seek to minimize risks stemming from climate change, not all risks can be eliminated. Weather perils such as droughts, storms or erratic precipitation represent so-called systemic risks that go beyond the farmers’ coping ability. Thus, mechanisms are needed that distribute residual risks to avoid that certain groups or individuals lose their livelihoods. One such risk transfer solution is crop insurance, which allows farmers to insure their crop yields against weather-induced losses. While insurance usually is based on indemnity assessment, this model is problematic for smallholder farmers due to the high transaction costs which insurance schemes usually entail. Thus, a more suitable approach for smallholder farmers are weather index-based insurances (WII), a scheme that uses a weather index, such as precipitation, to determine a payout. Alternative index-based insurance schemes can also be useful, such as area-yield index insurance.

Generally, insurance schemes are rather costly adaptation strategies, at least when considering the overall costs and with progressing climate change increasing the overall risk to the agricultural sector. However, insurance schemes have an important role to play for securing livelihoods: They can stabilize farm incomes and can prove to be very cost-effective for farmers when a hazard occurs.

According to the Ghana Agricultural Insurance Pool (GAIP), area-yield index insurance (AYII) as an alternative to WII has shown the biggest potential for smallholder farmers in Ghana as of yet. GAIP is a pioneer in implementing AYII in Ghana, insuring since 2011 successfully some 3000 – 4000 smallholder farmers’ cereal crops[1] on over 18,000 acres of land. In 2017, GAIP made payouts to nearly half its insured parties.

Although AYII is a promising development, farmers’ uptake of AYII in Ghana remains limited. Balmalssaka et al. (2016), who examined the willingness of farmers in northern Ghana to participate in insurance schemes, found access to credit as well as education and experience with insurance to be important factors determining farmers’ engagement with crop insurance (Balmalssaka et al., 2016).

This indicates the need for additional incentives or financial support for taking out insurance, underlined also by Aidoo et al. (2014) who determined farmers’ willingness to pay for crop insurance in one municipality in Ghana. He concluded there was a need for government subsidies to implement it in the country (Aidoo et al., 2014). While subsidies are one strategy, experts also suggested to bundle insurance with inputs, where possible, to increase uptake.

Overall, crop insurance is a promising strategy for transferring climate risk also in Ghana. There is high interest in Ghana and demand-based roll-out of insurance pilots can be recommended. However, careful design is crucial to ensure affordability and financial sustainability.

Post-harvest management

Effective post-harvest management is crucial to avoid food loss along the value chain. Investments in scaling technologies for improved post-harvest management have high potential for reducing crop losses, also and especially under climate change. With climate change altering growing and harvesting seasons, post-harvest management is important to cope with increased uncertainty. It is a risk-reducing strategy that lowers the vulnerability of crop production to climate impacts. Next to main staple crops such as maize and beans, post-harvest loss (PHL) of easily perishable horticulture crops could be avoided. Numerous effective and low-cost technologies exist that can prevent or reduce PHL.

Ghana’s NDC Implementation and Investment plan lists post-harvest management as a priority for adapting agriculture to climate change, with interviews confirming wide-spread interest in such strategies. A concrete post-harvest technology with promising results in the context of maize production in Ghana have been so-called PICS bags (Purdue Improved Cowpea Storage): simple and affordable yet effective hermetic storage bags originally developed for storing cowpea. Implementation of improved post-harvest management strategies can be recommended across the country as a low-hanging fruit, since better post-harvest management can increase agricultural production considerably.

Furthermore, as the economic analysis confirmed, most post-harvest management measures are rather low cost interventions, with most intervention types being “no regret” strategies because even in the absence of climate change, the improvement in crop handling will lead to lower crop losses and higher agricultural output, being economically sensible. Figure XX shows the net value of maize production under different post-harvest management scenarios, compared to scenarios of maize production without adaptation – both with (CC) and without climate change (BAS). Except for the highest cost scenario (MAX), all other PHM scenarios do not only make up for the maize losses under climate change, but are also able to surpass maize production under the baseline scenario (without climate change and without adaptation). This shows their high economic viability.

[1] The main insured crops are: maize, sorghum, millet and groundnut.

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