Two years Climate Risk Assessment Tool

Reasearchers in forest

SNV has developed its Climate Risk Assessment Tool to determine what climate risks different actors, resources and processes along a value chain face, and to identify suitable adaptation strategies that can help to lower these risks. Having applied the tool in multiple projects across 8 countries over the past 2 years, it is a good moment to look at the outcomes of these assessments and reflect on what we have learned from them.

SNV’s Climate Risk Assessment (CRA) tool uses a combination of scientific data and local field assessments. Two comprehensive methodologies, a climate risk matrix and resilience score card, are used to identify key risks along value chains, as well as the strengths and weaknesses in actors’ adaptive capacity. In this way, the climate risk assessment tool helps to comprehend and visualise rather complex concepts and to define effective and contextualised adaptation strategies.

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Highlights from implementing the Climate Risk Assessment Tool


In Uganda, the climate risk assessment was carried out for the Public-Private-Producer partnerships (4P) project. When the 4P actors noticed that farmers weren’t able to produce the agreed quantity of soyabean and sunflower after a period of scarce rainfall, they realised that climate change could severely impede the 4P business agreements. Even though producers are of course worst affected, the consequences of a drought are felt throughout the whole value chain. Processors, for example, are forced to source sunflower or soybeans from elsewhere, incurring higher costs for them. Also input dealers witness a reduction in their business as farmers are unable to invest in inputs as a result of their low incomes.

The climate risk assessment made clear that even though value chain actors were very much aware of climate change, they didn’t have knowledge or access to information on how to respond. A workshop that brought together all actors involved in the project, helped to increase their understanding of climate change and its (future) impacts for Uganda and for their own businesses. Based on a number of concrete adaptation options that were presented, the 4P actors made a selection of key options to be integrated in their 4P business plans. One of the key realisations that emerged during the workshop, was that tackling these climate risks is only possible when all actors work together and jointly invest in climate-smart practices or technologies that can lower the risks for farmers.


In Cameroon, the CRA was carried out for the PRESEC project, which aims to increase the resilience of the population in the northern-most regions of the country. Poor service provision in these remote, dry areas, combined with armed attacks across the border and a large inflow of refugees, have led to high rates of poverty and malnutrition among the population. In addition, the more erratic and extreme weather caused by climate change will affect crop production. Soils in this region are often degraded as a result of unsustainable farming practices, little diversification and removal of trees, which makes the local population even more vulnerable to climate change.

Considering the high malnutrition rates, the CRA aimed to find adaptation options that would both enhance adaptive capacity of actors, and improve food security. Actions like improving storage, introducing food processing or saving money, can generate a buffer that can help people to better withstand the lean period. Among the climate-smart practices that were recommended, special attention was given to enhancing diversification to spread risks, such as through the promotion of smallstock, planting trees, and using diverse crops (long and short cycle) that are both resilient and nutritious (such as sweet potato, certain leguminous species, and drought tolerant varieties). These practices can however only be effective if integrated in extension services and when joining hands with agricultural research institutes such as IRAD.

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In Zambia, the CRA tool was used to evaluate the effectiveness and upscaling potential of currently applied climate-smart practices in the Sustainable Integrated Land Management Solutions (SILMS) project. Next to these existing practices, which include agroforestry, ripping, integrated soil fertility management and the use of improved seeds, a number of other climate-smart practices were explored that are not part of the project yet, including irrigation and in-situ rainwater harvesting. The analysis pointed out that agroforestry is by far the most effective climate-smart option. Next to providing soil cover and nutrients (through cuttings, leaves, and nitrogen fixation), trees enhance biodiversity, create a cooler micro-climate, stabilise the soil, enhance productivity of crops, and provide a variety of income and food sources throughout the year.

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The SNV Scaling Scan was applied to analyse the scaling potential of these practices. Here, agroforestry scored somewhat lower, as access to finance and to input and output markets needs to be further developed – issues that are already an integral part of SILMS project design. Since irrigation is still underdeveloped in this region and supporting services and suitable finance models are lacking, this scored lowest. The innovative agroforestry-cookstove model piloted by SILMS, in which farmers supply pigeon pea biomass as payment method for an improved cookstove (pigeon pea stalks are used to generate pellets), has the highest scaling potential.

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Moving forward

The climate risk assessment tool proved to be a very valuable means to strengthen projects’ climate change adaptation approaches. Carrying out the assessment in the inception phase of a project, ensures that suitable climate-smart practices are integrated into project’s implementation plan. For projects that were already being implemented (like the SILMS project in Zambia), the tool helps to clarify the effectiveness of current practices and to identify suitable follow-up activities. Combining the CRAT with the Scaling Scan provides useful insights into barriers and opportunities to bringing these climate-smart business cases to scale.

The CRAT also proves to be an effective capacity building tool; the multi-stakeholder workshops that are part of the assessment (mostly after fieldwork results are in), bring all value chain actors up to speed on climate change and its effects in their country and value chain, and empowers them to identify effective and context-specific adaptation options. In defining these adaptation actions, we aim for synergies and alignment with existing national and local climate-related plans and strategies (such as NDCs or NAPs).

One of the main outcomes that emerged from the assessments, is that concerted efforts across the value chain are needed to effectively address the impacts of climate change. The burden of these impacts is still too much carried by the farmers alone. Each actor in the value chain has an important role to play: the private sector to develop and scale up climate-smart technologies, the government to provide an enabling business and policy environment and ensure tailored service delivery (such as climate information, capacity building and disaster risk reduction); and research institutes to engage in context-specific research that informs and evaluates climate actions. Close cooperation between these actors is vital to ensure the sustainability, effectiveness and widespread adoption of climate-smart innovations.