Climate Adaptation: Risk Management and Resilience Optimisation for Vulnerable Road Access in Africa

Climate in Africa is changing and the most immediate impact is from extreme climate events such as drought, floods, storms and cyclones. Knowledge on how this will adversely affect African Governments' roads and transport is weak and there is no common guidance on how to best deal with climate effects at present and in the coming years.

Project Objectives

The overall objective of this AfCAP regional project being carried out by a consortium led by South Africa's Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), is to promote climate-resilient rural access in Africa through research and knowledge-sharing within and between the participating countries.  The purpose is as follows: 

  1. Delivery of a research programme on activities relevant to climate adaptation and resilience strategies to enable national governments to take both short and longer term, policy-making action;

  2. Development of an appreciation and awareness within African Road and Transport ministries, departments and agencies of current and future challenges associated with the effects of climate change on rural access, and an increased ability to deal with more unpredictable and extreme climate effects;

  3. Trial and optimise best cost-benefit and return-on-investment approaches to demonstrate optimal resilient rural access and minimal impact on national economic progress;

  4. Produce a Climate Adaptation handbook and guidelines; and

  5. Implement a knowledge dissemination and capacity building programme.


Photo source: CSIR

Methodology and Phasing

All AfCAP partner countries have agreed to participate in this 32-month programme. In the first eight months (Phase 1), Climate Adaptation Guidelines were produced to initiate a sensitisation programme, linked to an introductory knowledge awareness raising and capacity building.

Phase 2 is focused on adaptation demonstrations, dissemination, capacity building and uptake. Training and capacity building will be important for: 

      • Understanding the challenges;
      • Participation and knowledge sharing/exchange;
      • Agreeing on methodologies and programmes for implementation of climate adaptation;
      • Disseminating knowledge and experience

The Project Team will focus on uptake and subsequent embedment of outcomes. This will be addressed through a range of interventions from informing national policies, through regional and district planning, down to practical guidance on adaptation delivery at rural road level.

The project runs from April 2016 till December 2018.

Beneficiaries and Partner Countries

The main beneficiaries of the AfCAP regional project on Climate Adaptation will be sub-Saharan African Road and Transport Ministries, Departments and Agencies, as well as regional institutions, NGOs, universities and research organisations, and particularly those based in AfCAP partner countries.

Three partner countries have been selected to participate in specific demonstration trials to optimise approaches and deliver climate and social resilience. These are: Ethiopia (Eastern Africa), Mozambique (Southern Africa) and Ghana (Western Africa). The selection process of the partner countries is described in the project’s Inception Report. 

Summary of new draft Climate Adaptation Handbook and Guidelines

Based on a full needs assessment, research is being carried out into appropriate and economic methodologies for vulnerability and risk assessments; prioritisation of adaptation interventions; and optimisation of asset resilience in the context of rural access. In addition, evidence of cost, economic and social benefit links to rural communities arising from more resilient rural access is required to support wider policy adoption across Africa.

The project focusses on: (a) demonstrating appropriate engineering and non-engineering adaptation procedures; (b) sustainable enhancement in the capacity of three AfCAP partner countries; (c) sustainable enhancement in the capacity of additional AfCAP partner countries; and (d) uptake and embedment across AfCAP partner countries.


A Handbook has been developed to address climate adaptation in a new and practical way. It covers a wide range of climatic, geomorphologic and hydrological circumstances, based on application to Mozambique, Ghana and Ethiopia, but equally applicable to any Sub-Saharan African country. Produced for low volume roads, the principles also apply to high volume roads, although there will be differing priorities and design parameters.

There are three specific, overlapping applications of the Handbook: new infrastructure and structures, rehabilitation & retrofitting, and maintenance. 

There are five stages in the adaptation process, as follows:


The Handbook sets out the overall approach and is supported by the following technical Guidelines.

  • Change Management Guidelines;
  • Climate Threats and Vulnerability Assessment Guidelines; and
  • Engineering Adaptation Guidelines.

The documents will come publicly available after successful trialling in AfCAP partner countries. 

Project Resources and Reports


Climate Adaptation: Inception Report, May 2016

Climate Adaptation: Recommendations for Phase 2, February 2017

Climate Adaptation: Workshop reports Ethiopia, Ghana, Mozambique, March 2017

Climate Adatation: Inception Report Phase 2, August 2017

Climate Adaptation: Phase 2 2nd Quarterly Report, December 2017

Technical Reports:

Climate Threats Report, July 2016

Climate Adaptation Options Report, September 2016

Climate Adaptation: Final Report for Phase 1, March 2017

Management of Vulnerability and Adaptation toClimate Change: Ethiopia, December 2018

Briefing Notes:

Climate Adaptation: Briefing Note 1, May 2016

Climate Adaptation: Briefing Note 2, October 2016

Climate Adaptation: Briefing Note 3, October 2016

Climate Adaptation: Briefing Note 4, January 2017

Climate Adaptation, Briefing Note 5, September 2017

Handbook, Guidelines and Manuals:

Climate Adaptation Handbook, September 2019

Engineering Adaptation Guidelines, September 2019

Visual Assessement Manual, September 2019

Climate Risk and Vulnerability Assessment Guidelines, September 2019

Change Management Guidelines, September 2019

External Resources

African Development Bank: Africa Climate Change Fund (ACCF), which aims to support African countries in their transition to a more climate-resilient and low-carbon mode of development.

World Bank: Climate Change and Africa: The World Bank's climate strategy aims to help sub-Saharan countries lessen climate change impacts and their effect on economic development.

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC): Climate Change 2007: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Project team details

Benoit Verhaeghe
Phil Paige