Adaptation at Scale in Semi-Arid Regions (ASSAR)

Photo credit: Tali Hoffman (UCT-ASSAR)

START is partnering with the University of Cape Town, University of East Anglia, the Indian Institute for Human Settlements, and Oxfam on a five-year project funded by IDRC and DfID that aims to improve understanding of climate change in semi-arid areas across Africa and Asia. This project (ASSAR) is funded through the Collaborative Adaptation Research Initiative in Africa and Asia (CARIAA), a major initiative to deepen understanding of vulnerability and adaptation in climate change ‘hot spots’ across Africa and Asia.

Through this initiative, four consortia will conduct research in three types of landscapes— semi-arid, deltas, and Himalayan river basins— where demographic trends and strong climate signals put large numbers of people and their livelihoods at risk. The Adaptation at Scale in Semi-Arid Regions (ASSAR) consortium works in Western, Eastern and Southern Africa and Western India; areas where vulnerability to climate variability and change is shaped by the intersection of a harsh climate regime and an array of non-climate stressors.

START is leading the overall capacity building effort within ASSAR, and is working closely with ASSAR partners to achieve multi-tiered leadership and ownership over capacity development through the project’s research and outreach efforts. One important emphasis of START’s work is on ‘ASSAR Fellows’, those early-career researchers who are involved in the project across the four ASSAR regions. Strengthening research and science communication skills will be an important part of this effort.

In addition, START is partnering closely with the Institute for Environment and Sanitation Studies (IESS) at the University of Ghana and with ICRISAT-Mali to carry out research in West Africa. The research focuses on understanding key barriers to and enablers of adaptation in northern Ghana and southern Mali through examining issues relating to governance, social differentiation (including gender), and natural resources. The research will employ a collaborative transformative scenario planning (TSP) process to co-develop adaptation pathways for positive livelihood trajectories, evaluate important material and non-material costs and benefits, and identify political-economic-institutional enablers for advancing adaptation efforts. A regional study on climate change in West Africa was released in April 2015. It aims to develop a systematic understanding of existing knowledge of climate change trends, impacts, vulnerabilities, and adaptation strategies, as well as to identify important barriers to and enablers of effective adaptation in the West Africa drylands.

For more information, contact Jon Padgham at

Last Updated on October 15th, 2015




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