Introduction to drylands: building climate resilience, productivity and equity

Although Africa’s drylands play an important role in food production, trade, tourism, migration and environmental services, policymakers often disregard well-developed community strategies and institutions for managing and leading sustainable livelihoods from their highly variable environment.

Article, 17 December 2012
Drylands: building climate resilience, productivity and equity
A programme of work showing how IIED is building capacity to act on the implications of climate change for equitable and climate resilient development in the drylands
A woman stands with three goats in shadow amid a dusty terrain

A woman stands with her goats in a dryland area in Niger (Photo: Stephen Anderson)

Covering about 40% of the Earth’s land surface, the drylands are home to 2.3 billion people. By developing strategies for managing the constantly changing environment, these people have learnt to take advantage of environmental variability to lead productive and sustainable livelihoods. 

But policymakers’ misconceptions mean that government policies rarely support community strategies. Not only does this undermine their well-adapted strategies, it also exposes communities to climate risk.
Our research, training and advocacy aims to amplify the voices of drylands people to inform policy and practice. We hope that improving policymakers’ understanding of dryland dynamics will help increase climate resilience, productivity and equity in these regions. In particular, we aim to: