The East African sub-region is among the most vulnerable regions to climate change in the world. Rural livelihoods in the region are particularly vulnerable because of high dependence on rain-fed agriculture. Developing the resilience of agricultural systems to adverse weather events and climate change is fundamental to achieving food security in the region.
There is sufficient evidence that practices such as conservation agriculture (CA) and other climate-smart agriculture (CSA) practices (for example agroforestry and integrated pest management) are some of the promising options that, over time can sustainably increase the productivity of smallholder production systems. These CSA systems are however, not widely used in East Africa partly because there is limited awareness, capacity, knowledge and policy support for the widespread use of the technologies.
The concept of Climate Smart Agriculture, initiated by the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) addresses the interlinked challenges of food security and climate change, and with the objective to increase agricultural productivity, adapt and build resilience of agricultural and food security systems to climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture.
EAC together with COMESA and SADC are implementing a programme on climate change to bring significant livelihood and food security benefits to at least 1.2 million small-scale farmers through the application of well-tested, Climate Smart Agriculture that combines crop production with agro-forestry and livestock management. In 2010 these three Regional Economic Communities (RECs) agreed to jointly implement a Climate Change programme covering 26 African countries.
Regional efforts underway to support climate-smart agriculture include the Africa Climate-Smart Agriculture Alliance, which aims to help 25 million farming households across Africa practice climate smart agriculture by 2025 as agreed by the first Africa Congress on Conservation Agriculture in March 2014 in Lusaka, Zambia.