Climate variability and change can be an obstacle to development and reduces the chances of achieving the Millennium Development Goals in Africa. Integrated climate risk management may reduce adverse climate related impacts in many climate sensitive sectors and promote growth, essential to enabling poor individuals to escape the poverty trap.
Sub-Saharan Africa has more than 800 million people, most of whom are dependent on rain-fed agriculture. On average, 25% of the region's gross domestic product derives from agriculture, 70% of its work force is in the rural sector, which accounts for most of the region's exports. The dependence on rain-fed agriculture makes African economies particularly susceptible to climate variability. The majority of African poor remain in rural areas, where households have limited assets to withstand climatic related shocks. The impact that climate variability can have on such agrarian economies is well reflected in the case of Ethiopia, where economic growth and food imports closely track variations in rainfall.
IRI continues to develop problem-targeted themes through activities in Africa where climate variability is significant. IRI works with regional and national partners to identify and solve specific climate-related problems.
The focus of the IRI Africa Regional Program has been on improving the operational management of agriculture, River Basin management, the development of early warning systems (floods-droughts, food security, epidemics of human diseases, livestock diseases and agricultural pests) and partnership and capacity building to achieve improved management of climate sensitive sectors and sustainable climate-related outcomes.