East and Southern Africa is a climate hotspot, with more than US$45 billion in agricultural production at risk from higher temperatures, shorter growing seasons and more extreme droughts and floods. Maize, a staple crop covering up to 75% of cropland in parts of the region, is particularly vulnerable and is projected to face yield declines of 15%, among other climate impacts. Many of the affected areas already have serious levels of hunger and malnutrition, with the highest burden experienced by women and youth from marginalized, vulnerable communities. Therefore, if these systems are sustainably diversified, they could contribute to stabilize the regional and global agrifood systems.
The next decade will be critical for strengthening food, land and water systems in East and Southern Africa. The region’s agribusiness ecosystem has been identified as a critical engine for agricultural and economic development, climate change adaptation and gender and youth empowerment. Investment in innovation, capabilities and supportive environments will be essential for driving sustainable growth that benefits all.
This Initiative aims to support climate-resilient agriculture and livelihoods in 12 countries in East and Southern Africa by helping millions of smallholders intensify, diversify and reduce the risks in maize-based farming through improved extension services, small and medium enterprise development, supporting governance frameworks and increased investment with a gender and social inclusion lens.