EbA Evidence and Policy: Burkina Faso

IIED and IUCN are collating and using evidence from the EPIC Project piloted in Northern Burkina Faso to explore the effectiveness of ecosystem-based approaches to climate change adaptation and inform and influence national adaptation planning processes.

July 2015 - September 2019
Xiaoting Hou Jones

 Xiaoting Hou Jones was a senior researcher in the biodiversity team of IIED's Natural Resources research group until March 2024

Ecosystem-based adaptation
A programme of work focused on people using biodiversity and ecosystem services to adapt to climate change and promote sustainable development
Workers digging zaï pits that help to preserve water on farms (Photo: IUCN)

Workers digging zaï pits that help to preserve water on farms (Photo: copyright IUCN)

Ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) involves people using biodiversity and ecosystem services to adapt to the adverse effects of climate change and promote sustainable development. Between 2015 and 2019, IIED, the International Union for the Conservation of nature (IUCN) and the UN Environment World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) are jointly implementing a project called 'Ecosystem-based approaches to climate change adaptation: strengthening the evidence and informing policy' (EbA Evidence and Policy). 

Working with local partners in 12 countries in Asia, Africa and Central and South America, the project aims to gather practical evidence and develop country-specific policy guidance on EbA, and to promote EbA at international level. More information and all the case studies sites are available via the main project page

What are we doing in Burkina Faso?

The Ecosystems Protecting Infrastructure and Communities (EPIC) project aimed to build community resilience by implementing nature-based solutions to disaster risk reduction (DRR) and climate change adaptation (CCA). In Burkina Faso, activities ran from 2013 to 2017 and were implemented in six villages in Yatenga and Lorum Provinces in the country’s northern region, specifically targeted due to the high levels of vulnerability to climate change, food insecurity and poverty experienced there. The project combined climate-smart agriculture and ecosystem-based approaches to restore the productivity of croplands and rangelands.


Ecosystems in the project area are mainly croplands and rangelands, with small wetlands, including small rivers and small lakes. The major climate change related risks identified are drought, floods, strong winds and high temperatures. A number of climate-smart agriculture and EbA innovations were identified and implemented to address them: soil restoration, reforestation, riverbank and dam bank protection, biodigestors, organic gardening, constructed pools. Capacity building activities were also undertaken in the form of training programmes and study exchange trips.

Map of the EPIC project sites in Burkina Faso. Click on the image to expand. (Image: Sylvain Zabré and Fabiola Monty/IUCN)
Using the climate-smart agriculture and EbA Evidence and Policy project's framework for assessing EbA effectiveness, IUCN conducted interviews and surveys in October and November 2017. The interviewees included representatives of governmental and non-governmental organisations at national level, staff from sub-national governments and technical services in charge of agriculture, project beneficiaries at community level and IUCN staff members. Information was gathered on lessons learnt through the EPIC project and the EbA effectiveness. Those lessons learnt will be further used to inform policymakers and mainstream EbA within climate change policies in Burkina Faso.

The involvement of stakeholders throughout the EbA Evidence and Policy project's three components – research, capacity building and policy advocacy – has resulted in broader knowledge and ultimately, better adaptive capacities. 

Informing policy 

Building on the research results, IUCN Burkina Faso is working with National Council for Emergency Relief and Rehabilitation (CONASUR), and the National Council for the Environment and Sustainable Development (CONEDD) to mainstream EbA into national climate change strategies. For example, the latter organisation has started implementing a United Nations Development Programme-Global Environmental Finance (UNDP-GEF) funded project on EbA, which is benefitting from evidence derived from EPIC, particularly on how they can engage communities in EbA, which is their main issue.  

Updates from IUCN Burkina Faso 

October 2017
We conducted an assessment of the effectiveness of EbA approaches for communities, and effectiveness for ecosystems. This study also includes a diagnosis of the policy and institutional issues surrounding the approach.

May 2017
At the national EPIC project closing workshop, we made a presentation on the EbA project and its contribution to community resilience. The workshop participants called for the EbA project results to be scaled up to cover the entire Northern Region and also other regions of Burkina Faso. Moreover, the Governor of the Northern Region has written to IUCN requesting a second phase of the EPIC project to enable this scaling up.

- News story (in French only)

September 2016
We took part in the IUCN World Conservation Congress (WCC), held in Hawaii September 1-10. We presented a poster on “The role of traditional knowledge for adapting to climate change and related hazards”, which highlighted how important ecosystem-based approaches are for eco-DRR and climate change adaptation.

Additional resources


International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) 

National Council for Emergency Relief and Rehabilitation (CONASUR)

National Council for the Environment and Sustainable Development (CONEDD), now the National Council for Sustainable Development (CNDD)


International Climate Initiative (IKI)
The German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB) supports the IKI on the basis of a decision adopted by the German Bundestag