Evidence from Africa shows that development interventions could do more. Change is a constant in the lives of rural people in Africa. They have had to cope with both sudden shocks such as war, rain failures and food price spikes and with long-term stresses such as increasing population pressure on land, declines in their terms of trade, and the degradation of land and water.

They will have to cope with these pressures in the future, coupled with the growing impact of climate change. People need the ability to maintain (and even improve) their well-being in the face of change – whatever that change may be. This is what we call adaptive capacity.

Drawing on evidence from the Africa Climate Change Resilience Alliance (ACCRA) project (2010-11) – a research and advocacy consortium in Ethiopia, Mozambique and Uganda – this Briefing Paper aims to understand better how different kinds of development interventions affect the characteristics of adaptive capacity.

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