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Climate and Environment, Institutions and Orgs




East and Southern Africa

"Ultimately, this framework can be a tool for long-term strategy and monitoring."


Climate change often hits poor rural communities the hardest, and its impacts can be a barrier to escaping extreme poverty. Through a more detailed measurement of biophysical, landscape, ecological and social indicators, this programme offers insights that can inform more effective rural development.  


Building climate change resilience

The impacts of climate change are measured and monitored across a range of indicators, giving project designers the knowledge they need to better help rural poor people overcome ecological shocks.

A national framework for ecosystem health

A structured framework will help future projects to benchmark and measure the effects of climate change, landscape health, socio-economic factors, and their combined impact on natural resource management. Ultimately, this framework can be a tool for long-term strategy and monitoring.


The project can offer

  • experience in using EO data in combination with other metrics to support development project design


Countries involved

Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Swaziland, and Uganda

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New developments in data collection make it possible to gain a more detailed picture of the ecological factors affecting poor rural people struggling with the impacts of climate change. These insights offer the potential to improve project design and rural development outcomes.

This project has been set up in five countries, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Swaziland, and Uganda, on a pilot basis. Its aim is to create a framework of scientifically robust, easily measurable indicators that can be used to design more effective rural development projects, the better to help people build resilience in the face of environmental shocks and reduce rural poverty.



When it comes to facing the impacts of climate change, poor rural households are at the front line. Their limited capacity to deal with a series of interconnected natural resource management challenges presents a major hurdle to escaping from extreme poverty.

To help meet this challenge, there is an ongoing need for better-informed project design, improved baseline assessments, and strengthened results-based management on the ground by using continuous monitoring.

More specifically for the five pilot countries, this entails:

  • how to enhance national stakeholders’ and development partners’ access to the high-quality data and diagnostic evidence on ecosystem health and household resilience which is now available.

  • how to develop the capacity to use this data and evidence to strengthen the design, monitoring, and on-going refinement of development programs’ interventions and investments

  • how to strengthen results-based management on the ground.



This project was set up to define and measure scientifically rigorous biophysical indicators of landscape “ecosystem health,” which include soil erosion, soil fertility and vegetation dynamics, and socio-economic indicators.

Two factors come into play in determining the project’s methods.

Firstly, there has been a recent revolution in quality and accessibility of Earth Observation (EO) data of landscape-level ecosystem health, which can be combined with field level information on production and household income to improve baseline assessments and strengthen results-based management on the ground.

Secondly, as demonstrated by recent pilot programs, it is now possible to assess landscape spatial variations in soil biophysical properties and vegetation, real time rangeland assessments, flood risks, degradation hotspots, and identifying depth and duration of snowpack.

With the aid of this information, the project is building a national framework for assessment and monitoring information in the context of: 

  1. climate change adaptation and risk management
  2. community-based natural resources management
  3. land use planning and management including land security
  4. food security
  5. strategic targeting of value chain and rural finance investments.

These measures in turn would enable a more precise and relevant project design, improved project management, and more informative subsequent monitoring of impact.

These systems will be piloted in five countries in the ESA region along with the development of a common indicator framework that could in the future be used across all investments in the region and beyond.



As this is a four-year program that started in late 2016, there are few concrete results to date. However, the expected outcomes in each of the five ESA participating countries include:

  • adoption of an EO-assisted M&E framework

  • introduction of a

  • enhanced resilience of farm households and rural landscapes to climate and socio-economic shocks

  • project staff able to use EO-assisted landscape level information for better project management


Lessons learned and potential for replication

Although this programme is at an early stage, the expectation is that its results could be readily replicated in other countries in the region and elsewhere. 


Next steps  

The next step is to implement the planned activities and evaluate their impact and applicability to other countries.

Last update: 09/08/2018