World Bank makes $100m in financing available for African climate research

11th December 2023 By: Marleny Arnoldi - Deputy Editor Online

The World Bank will make $100-million available to the Consortium of International Agricultural Research Centres (CGIAR) through the bank’s International Development Association (IDA) as part of additional finance to accelerate climate research for Africa.

World Bank agriculture and food global practice director Martien van Nieuwkoop confirmed during the twenty-eighth Conference of the Parties (COP28), in Dubai, that the additional finance would be made available to the Accelerating Impacts of CGIAR Climate Research for Africa (AICCRA) project in 2024 and 2025.

Through the AICCRA project, scientists and researchers from across the CGIAR – the world’s largest publicly funded agricultural research network – support African national and regional partners with scientific and technical capacity development, with the aim of enhancing climate information services and validating packages of technologies, services or practices for agriculture that are validated to be ‘climate-smart’.

So far at COP28, a total of $890-million has been pledged in support of the CGIAR’s new investment case, placing the future of agriculture at the heart of climate discussions for the first time.

With this funding, the CGIAR will expand its work supporting smallholder farmers in low- and middle-income countries to shape more resilient, sustainable, and equitable food systems, reduce emissions from farming, and boost access to nutritious, healthy diets.

The rate of return to investments made in the CGIAR has recently been calculated to have an overall benefit-cost ratio of ten to one across all CGIAR research.

Through the additional $100-million in financing from World Bank for AICCRA, the CGIAR can continue to build on the project’s achievements so far. By the end of this year, AICCRA is set to have supported nearly five-million smallholder farmers and other African food systems stakeholders with better access to innovations, which help them make informed decisions about how to grow crops or manage livestock in a fast-changing climate. 

The project is on track to reach or surpass all the objectives and performance indicators agreed with the World Bank at its inception, to reach its overall project objective of strengthening the capacity of African governments, regional organizations, farmers, and other relevant stakeholders to enhance access to climate information services and validated climate-smart agriculture technologies in countries in Africa that are eligible for IDA funds.

AICCRA activities are focused in Senegal, Mali, Ghana, Ethiopia, Kenya and Zambia, while also supporting an array of African regional organizations in West Africa, as well as East and Southern Africa.

The World Bank says there are compelling examples of AICCRA’s impact across its focus countries and beyond. 

For example, in Mali, 150 000 farmers benefited from higher yields and incomes owing to the adoption of a digital app called RiceAdvice for sustainable rice cultivation, where it was bundled with various practices that reduce both demand for scarce water and emissions.

Malian farmers increased their income by $364/ha when using drought-tolerant varieties and following RiceAdvice recommendations.

AICCRA is also helping to derisk investments into climate-smart agricultural enterprises in Zambia, having reached 390 000 farmers so far and securing a 200% return on the original project funding from private investors at a Zambia investor forum.

Through training programmes delivered on a regional scale, AICCRA has expanded access to a high-end seasonal weather forecasting system known as “NextGen” to 30 countries and the regional climate centres that cover West Africa and East Africa.

Moreover, in partnership with universities and agriculture extension colleges in Ethiopia, AICCRA is supporting partners to mainstream the teaching of climate services and climate-smart agriculture in higher education institutions across Africa.

Nieuwkoop says innovation is critical, particularly considering that agriculture is already in uncharted territory in terms of climate change, while governments are only investing about 0.3% of gross domestic product on agri-research and innovation.

With additional finance, AICCRA will not only focus on broadening access to innovation, but also ensuring millions of farmers actually use such innovation in a meaningful and sustainable way.

CGIAR partnerships director Juan Lucas Restrepo says the goal is to enhance access to climate information services and validated climate-smart agriculture technologies across the continent.

“This additional finance to AICCRA will allow us all to build on the compelling legacy of the project since it launched just a few years ago."