Better Life Alliance in Zambia: Improved landscape, agroforestry, soil, and fertilizer managementEast Africa


Better Life Alliance (BLA), funded by USAID’s Feed the Future initiative, was a food security project implemented in the Luangwa valley in the Eastern Province of Zambia in an area with communal lands for 63 cheifdoms surrounding national parks and protected forest. Land degradation and poor soil quality led to low food security in the area, and climate change is anticipated to reduce crop yields (World Bank 2016b)/taxonomy/term/7951. Agricultural expansion is the primary driver of land use change, and savannah degradation and conversion contribute significantly to Zambia’s national GHG emissions (Day et al. 2014, FAO 2015f)/taxonomy/term/7982 /taxonomy/term/7973

BLA aimed to improve agricultural value chains and market links in order to reduce poverty, encourage sustainable land management and improve conservation. To provide market-based incentives the product label “It’s Wild!” and a possibility of selling products 10-20% above market prices was offered to farmers for complying with wildlife conservation standards and practicing conservation agriculture. The BLA project impacted GHG emissions and carbon sequestration through avoided degradation and conversion of savanna, agroforestry expansion, soil and manure management improvements, crop-residue burning reduction, and fertilizer management.

Relationship to CSA

The BLA project benefitted farmers by increasing productivity in the groundnut, maize, rain-fed rice and soybean value chains. Activities that avoided savanna degradation and conversion provided significant mitigation benefits.

Impact and lessons learned

Farmers were connected to consumer markets through a business model that provided incentives for conservation and climate change mitigation. In addition to the mitigation benefits, BLA also avoided degradation on 395,000 ha and avoided conversion of 15,450 ha through community conservation plans to prevent savanna fires. The improved farming practices encouraged by BLA also resulted in increased yields and decreased post-harvest losses. 

Link to info note


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    World Bank. 2016b. Climate Change Knowledge Portal: for Development Practitioners and Policy Makers. It is important to evaluate how climate has varied and changed in the past. The monthly mean historical rainfall and temperature data can be mapped to show the baseline climate and seasonality by month, for specific years, and for rainfall and temperature. The chart above shows mean historical monthly temperature and rainfall for Zambia during the time period 1901-2015. The dataset was produced by the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) of University of East Anglia (UEA).
  • 2

    Day M, Gumbo D, Moombe KB, Wijaya A, Sunderland T. 2014. Zambia Country Profile: Monitoring, Reporting and Verification for REDD+. CIFOR Occasional Paper no. 113. Bogor, Indonesia: Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR). This report provides a comprehensive overview of the national REDD+ strategy and institutional capacity for MRV of REDD+ as well as the current state of knowledge of various elements critical to MRV of REDD+ in Zambia including: Current drivers and rates of deforestation and forest degradation; a review of standing biomass, forest growth rates and carbon stock estimates; and data sets available for MRV in Zambia.
  • 3

    FAO. 2015f. Agriculture-charcoal interactions as determinants of deforestation rates: Implications for REDD+ design in Zambia. Policy Brief No. 6. Rome, Italy: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. This policy brief addresses the question of the economic drivers of both deforestation and forest degradation (DD) in Zambia1 . It develops a business-as-usual (BAU) scenario to support reference levels for greenhouse gas (GHC) emissions. The relative contributions to DD of the two largest proximate drivers of deforestation in Zambia, charcoal production and agriculture, are predicted under different scenarios over the 2015-2022 period. Possible ways of reducing land use change (LUC) are examined using an economy-wide model capturing Zambia’s different agro-ecological regions (AERs) (Figure 1). The model assumes that forests used for unsustainable charcoal production are degraded, or can be in part converted to land for agriculture use. However, land can also be deforested directly for agricultural use without going through charcoal production. The brief concludes that concerted action on both the supply and demand sides is crucial to the success of the national strategy for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries (REDD+).

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CCAFS Climate-Smart Agriculture 101

The basics

Climate-smart agriculture (CSA) is an integrative approach to address these interlinked challenges of food security and climate change, that explicitly aims for three objectives:

A. Sustainably increasing agricultural productivity, to support equitable increases in farm incomes, food security and development;

B. Adapting and building resilience of agricultural and food security systems to climate change at multiple levels; and

C. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture (including crops, livestock and fisheries).

Entry points

Agriculture affects and is affected by climate change in a wide range of ways and there are numerous entry points for initiating CSA programmes or enhancing existing activities. Productivity, mitigation and adaptation actions can take place at different technological, organizational, institutional and political levels. To help you navigate these myriad entry points we have grouped them under three Thematic Areas: (i) CSA practices, (ii) CSA systems approaches, and (iii) Enabling environments for CSA. Each entry point is then described and analysed in terms of productivity, adoption and mitigation potential and is illustrated with cases studies, references and internet links for further information.

Develop a CSA plan

Planning for, implementing and monitoring CSA projects and programmes evolves around issues of understanding the context including identification of major problems/barriers and opportunities related to the focus of the programme; developing and prioritizing solutions and designing plans; implementation; and monitoring and evaluation. Most major development agencies have their own framework for project and programme formulation and management but CCAFS has developed a specific approach for planning, implementing and assessing CSA projects and programme called CSA plan. CSA plan was developed to provide a guide for operationalizing CSA planning, implementation and monitoring at scale. CSA plan consist of four major components: (1) Situation analysis; (2) Targeting and prioritizing; (3) Program support; and (4) Monitoring. evaluation and learning.


To meet the objectives of CSA, such as agricultural development, food security and climate change adaptation and mitigation, a number of potential funding sources are available. For instance, climate finance sources may be used to leverage agriculture finance and mainstream climate change into agricultural investments. This section offers an overview of potential sources of funding for activities in climate-smart agriculture (CSA) at national, regional and international levels and for a number of different potential ‘clients’ including governments, civil society, development organizations and others. Additionally, it includes options to search among a range of funding opportunities according to CSA focus area, sector and financing instrument.

Resource library

CSA Guide provides a short and concise introduction and overview of the multifaceted aspects of climate-smart agriculture. At the same time it offers links to references and key resources that allows for further investigations and understanding of specific topics of interest. In the resource library we have gathered all the references, key resources, terms and questions in one place for a quick overview and easy access that can be used as a part of or independently of the other sections of the website. The resource library is divided into six sections; (1) References – list all publications, links and blogs referred to on the website; (2) Tools – list all the CSA tools presented on the website; (3) Key terms – explains the most important and frequently used terms related to CSA; (4) Frequently asked questions (FAQ) – provides a rapid overview of the most common questions asked on climate-smart agriculture; (5) About – where you can find out more about the purpose and structure of, as well as on the organizations and authors behind the website; (6) Contact.

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