8 | Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) Report

likely to increase, and the cyclone zone may expand, making the western Indian Ocean islands even more vulnerable than they already are. Patterns of disease distribution are also likely to change (IPCC, 2007b; UNEP, 2002b). Although global efforts to address the causes of climate change are underway, global warming and sea level rise are likely to continue for centuries to come because of the timescales associated with climate processes and feedbacks

Countries in SSA have a wide diversity of farming systems. Farming systems in SSA can be identified by the following four types (IAC, 2004):

  • The maize-mixed system, which is based primarily on
    maize, cotton, cattle and goats.
  • Cereal/root crop-mixed system, which is based on
    maize, sorghum, millet, cassava, yams and cattle.
  • Irrigated system, based on maize, sorghum, millet, cassava yams and cattle.

The tree crop-based system, anchored in cocoa, coffee, oil palm and rubber, mixed with yams and maize.
Subsistence farming dominates the farming system in SSA. There is little application of technology, particularly with food crops, leading to low agricultural productivity. Cash crops tend to be better developed than food crops (IAC, 2004). Farm sizes tend to be small and decline over time (Ellis, 2005; Nagayets, 2005). Average farm size in four SSA countries (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Malawi) was about 1.55 ha (Ellis, 2005). Generally, the average size of land holdings declined from 1.5 hectares in 1970 to 0.5 hectares in 1990 (Nagayats, 2005). The decline of farm size partially reflects the exhaustion of land frontiers in most SSA countries. It is important therefore to take into account


the peculiar needs and concerns of farmers engaged in these various farming systems when developing agricultural technologies or during extension delivery.

1.2.2 Social, economic, cultural and political characteristics

Sub-Saharan Africa is a region that is often divided for different types of analysis based on social, economic, cultural, political and historical sub-regional characteristics. For a more productive division for discussion of AKST, SSA is considered as comprised of six distinct regions: East Africa, Sudano-Sahel, West Africa, the Central Africa, Southern Africa and the Islands of the Indian Ocean (Lelo and Makenzi, 2000; Table 1-2). About one-half of the countries comprising SSA are Anglophone and one-half are Francophone. The colonial legacy influences considerations of economic integration and joint development activities, including agricultural development. This fragmentation presents a roadblock to regional synergy and economies of scale.

Present day boundaries of SSA countries are a legacy of colonialism (Britannica, 2007). The European insistence on drawing borders around territories to isolate them from those of other colonial powers often had the effect of separating otherwise contiguous political groups, or forcing traditional enemies to live side by side with no buffer between them. These changes introduced cultural dichotomies detrimental to the native inhabitants. For example, although the Congo River appears to be a natural geographic boundary, there are groups that otherwise share common language and culture on both sides of the river. However, the division of the land between Belgium and France created boundaries that isolated groups with similar cultures.

Table 1-2. IAASTD sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) countries and regions.

Central Africa
West Africa
East Africa
Burundi Benin Ethiopia
Cameroon Cape Verde Eritrea
Central African Republic Cote d’Ivoire Kenya
Democratic Rep. Congo Gambia, The Tanzania
Equatorial Guinea Ghana Uganda
Gabon Guinea
Republic of Congo Guinea-Bissau
Southern Africa
Rwanda Liberia Angola
Sierra Leone Botswana
Togo Lesotho
Sao Tome and Principe Malawi
Burkina Faso Mozambique
Indian Ocean Islands
Mali Comoros South Africa
Niger Madagascar Swaziland
Nigeria Mauritius Zambia
Senegal Seychelles Zimbabwe

Note: Some of the data used differ in definition of SSA, but differences are marginal for purposes of this assessment.