Main image for Climate change adaptation of small-holder farmers

Farmers from Rupandehi district visited a community in Dang to discuss adaptations to the monsoon season arriving one month later effecting maize crops ripening by the end of the cropping season.     (Jessica Thorn, July 2012)

Climate change adaptation of small-holder farmers: A systemic integrated adaptation framework for planning and policy

Systemic Integrated Adaptation (SIA) Framework is a three-year, multidisciplinary research initiative exploring the resilience and adaptive capacity of food systems to climate change. Employing systems-thinking, the program brings together different philosophical, methodological and theoretical assumptions through social, environmental, political and economic lenses to climate adaptation planning. The research adopts a grounded-theory approach to implement integrated field research studies in small-holder farming environments in the Indo-Gangetic Plains (Terai Plains of Nepal), West Africa (North Western Ghana) and Latin America (Brazil), followed by in-country and Oxford-based pluri-disciplinary dialogues. The research is supported by Climate Change Agriculture and Food Security programme of the CGIAR.

We hope the produce site-specific contextual insights as well as draw out scalable and replicable features which can guide regional, national and international policy, planning and decision-making processes. In particular, the research program aims to:

(a) clarify whether, and if so what, differences in meanings, principles, methods and tools are being realized in planned and autonomous adaptation practice and why;

(b) reveal implications for diagnosing and building resilience and adaptation through capacity development interventions; and

(c)  identify implications for the development of meta-theory and meta-methodology for adaptation planning

The ultimate outcome is a systemic framework for integrated adaptation planning.

Incorporating tools from each of the lenses, the research also involves cross-cutting activities such as the Farms of the Future Exchange Program (FOTF). FOTF aims to practically apply the CCAFS developed Climate Analogues tool to facilitate farmer exchanges between possible climate futures sites. In Nepal 2012, this approach as piloted, where an ensemble of 24 downscaled General Circulation Models were used to identify precipitation and temperature analogues for the reference village of Beora in Rupandehi district for the year 2030. Researchers also aimed to locate analogues considered environmental covariates such as hydro-sheds and soil quality, developmental aspirations of farmers, and socially, linguistic and cultural appropriateness. The exchange program was embedded in a diagnostic and planning program which identified community perceptions and values, strategies and tools available for coping with environmental change, visions for development and social, cultural and gender specific barriers to adaptation.

The research program involves four DPhil students in the Biodiversity Institute (Department of Zoology) and the Environmental Change Institute (School of Geography and Environment) together with principle investigator Ariella Helfgott (Adelaide University).  They each address particular research questions as outlined in figure 1. It is supported by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) research program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), which aims to overcome the threats posed by a changing climate to achieving food security, enhancing livelihoods and improving environmental management.

Contact: Jessica Thorn ( or Ariella Helfgott (

Some weblinks and working paper

Climate analogues tool:

Working paper on climate analogues tool: