Columbia University’s Institute for Climate & Society is key partner in new World Bank-funded climate resilience project in Africa

On May 18, 2021, Columbia University in New York City announced that their Columbia Climate School’s International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI) had become a major partner in a new $60 million climate resilience project for agriculture in Africa.

The project is funded by the World Bank, and is led by the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS).

The Accelerating the Impact of CGIAR Climate Research for Africa (AICCRA) project will help farmers better anticipate destructive climate-related events and take preventative actions, as well as improve their access to climate advisories and recommendations on effective response measures.

River in Zambia.
Photo by Christo Ras from Pixabay

The project will work with key regional and national institutions across Africa, but will focus its activities in six countries: Senegal, Ghana, Mali, Ethiopia, Kenya and Zambia.

This funding will support IRI’s groundbreaking work in providing the world’s best climate services,” said Alex Halliday, director of the Earth Institute and founding dean of the Columbia Climate School.

It links climate forecasting, agricultural sciences and economics with critical development efforts across Africa. This is a terrific opportunity and an example of the type of impact-oriented work that will be done within the Climate School,” he added.

The impactful work of research institutions such as IRI and the CGIAR supported by the World Bank and other development institutions can be a model for how we can foster essential climate solutions,” added Ruth DeFries, a co-founding dean of the new school.

AICCRA reinforces the decade-long partnership between IRI and CCAFS to manage the impacts of climate variability and extremes on food production.

The project also builds on the work accomplished to date by Adapting Agriculture to Climate Today, for Tomorrow (ACToday), the first Columbia World Project (CWP). CWP is a university-wide initiative aimed at transforming knowledge to action, garnering the wealth of expertise at Columbia in partnership with other stakeholders to address global challenges.

Since 2017, ACToday has developed tools to ensure individuals and institutions in the agricultural sector have access to the most accurate and relevant climate information — and can use it to grow more food to sustain more people.

ACToday has focused on combating hunger by increasing climate knowledge in six countries in Africa, Asia and South America that are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate variability on their food systems. Consistent with CWP’s mission, our efforts have helped build a strong foundation for larger resilience projects such as AICCRA to take the work to scale,” said Columbia World Projects Director Wafaa El-Sadr.

These experiences enabled us to play an important role in defining and developing AICCRA’s climate-services activities,” said Walter Baethgen, a senior research scientist at IRI and co-lead of ACToday. “For us to be recognized as being on par with the CGIAR is a major achievement.

Featured photo by Francesco Fiondella shows farmers from southern Mali’s Sikasso region tending their cowpea crop.

See the International Research Institute for Climate and Society website.

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