Climate change adaptation in West Africa Facilitating conversation to break down barriers

In the semi-arid Sahel of West Africa, already-vulnerable communities are facing longer annual droughts and more erratic weather patterns. Since 2011, a team of CIFOR scientists have been investigating how forests and tree resources can help these communities cope and adapt to climate change and variability.

However, the team quickly found that scientists, policy-makers and communities weren’t talking – even to each other – resulting in a mismatch between policy and the needs of the people.

In response, and as part of the French Facility for Global Environment funded ACFAO project, the team are organizing an event – an exchange platform – to break down communication barriers and support all actors in informing climate change policy. With the first exchange scheduled for early 2015 in Burkina Faso, CIFOR’s team are working to ensure that it becomes a regular event that continues long after the life of ACFAO.


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Ecosystems provide important services that can help people adapt to climate variability and change. Recognizing this role of ecosystems, several international and nongovernmental organizations have promoted an ecosystem-based approach to adaptation.