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Adaptation at Scale in Semi-Arid Regions (ASSAR)

At a glance

ASSAR aims to deepen understanding of climate vulnerability and adaptation in semi-arid regions. Find this page easily again at:


Adaptation at Scale in Semi-Arid Regions or ASSAR is a five-year research project, for which Oxfam GB is the research-into-use partner. It aims to deepen understanding of climate vulnerability and adaptation in semi-arid regions and to inform and influence climate change adaptation practice and policy. 

Running from March 2014 to November 2018, ASSAR is funded by the Canadian International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and the UK Department for International Development (DFID). 

It aims to embed proactive, widespread adaptation in development activities and to advance adaptive livelihoods for vulnerable groups in dry lands by building capacity and closing knowledge gaps. The project will be implemented in four regions (Eastern, Southern and Western Africa and South Asia).

Objectives and approach

The consortium-wide specific objectives are to 

  • Undertake high-quality, transdisciplinary research to generate new knowledge on vulnerability and adaptation; 
  • Develop and trial relevant actionable strategies for adaptation; 
  • Drive innovative communication approaches for knowledge sharing; 
  • Enable systemic capacity strengthening for adaptation in research, policy and practice
  • Ensure research is used so as to shape policy and practices. 


ASSAR pursues a 'question driven approach to research' that targets key knowledge gaps and has strong elements of co-design and leading roles for national partners. Its research structure features a high level of integration across regional research streams, facilitated by cross-cutting themes including gender, economics and wellbeing.
The consortium combines leading interdisciplinary researchers in climate, development and multidimensional approaches to understanding livelihood systems, an international track record of excellence in enhancing developing country research and fully integrated practitioner perspectives.

The research process is intertwined with a so-called Transformative Scenario Planning (TSP) process (supported by REOS partners) which focuses on constructing potential future scenarios for problematic situations such as the nature of drastic climatic change. Several TSP processes will be undertaken in the research sites in order not only to understand and adapt to the future but also to influence and transform it.

The final research and project design will be following principles of adaptive and iterative management and hence, objectives and strategies to achieve will be regularly re-visited and modified to ensure that ASSAR research has significant impact on adaptation policy and proactive.

ASSAR Theory of change

Consortium partners

ASSAR will be implemented by a consortium of five core partners:

ASSAR is part of a wider research initiative,Collaborative Adaptation Research Initiative in Africa and Asia known as CARIAA. Beyond the core partners, ASSAR will be implemented through many national partners in the four project regions.

Oxfam's role

Oxfam GB is the lead partner for the research-into-use component. Its objectives are divided into two main areas as outlined below. Jesse DeMaria-Kinney is Oxfam's Programme Coordinator - Climate Change Adaptation and the ASSAR Research-into-Use Coordinator. Contact Jesse for more information about ASSAR.

During years 1-2 Oxfam will:

  • Ensure practitioner and impact perspectives are embedded in the research design.
  • Support and facilitate stakeholder engagement, with a particular view on practitioners and policy/decision-makers.
  • Play a role in convening and facilitating transformative scenario planning processes.

Based on the research findings, in years 3-5 Oxfam will:

  • Build the capacity of policy-/decision-makers via events/conferences/science-policy dialogues and targeted communication products, e.g. policy briefs, reviews.
  • Build the capacity of practitioners by developing targeted knowledge products for practitioners on specific themes/ issues (based on research findings/ outputs).
  • Influence policy processes through an ongoing engagement with policy-/decision-makers at national (most likely three countries) and regional level (in one of the four ASSAR regions).
  • Communicate and disseminate research results to adaptation practitioner networks.
  • Contribute to, co-develop and influence adaptation plans and strategies at various scales in selected countries

Oxfam will also pursue an internal learning agenda through its role as an ASSAR implementing agency. We will be considering how evidence emerging from research is being used to influence policies that affect livelihood systems. As well as how our approaches and programmes in drylands can best integrate research findings.

Africa and Asia climate messages

Explore the climate messages for 2015 which have come out of ASSAR's Regional Diagnostic Studies across Africa and Asia.

ASSAR's Theory of Change

We're taking steps to ensure that vulnerable people in Africa and Asia benefit from effective, widespread and sustained adaptation to climate change.

Regional Diagnostic Studies

Climate Change Adaptation Practice in Semi-Arid Regions: Views and Insights by Practitioners

The first phase of ASSAR was to investigate what people in semi-arid regions currently know about climate change, and what they're doing to adapt to these changes. From March 2014 to April 2015, each team gathered this information for their regions through meetings with stakeholders, and literate searches. The reports below detail their findings.

Also see:

Regional climate message animations

Watch some short animations outlining key climate messages from four regions.ASSAR climate messages

For a full list of publications, including summaries and presentation, visit the ASSAR outputs page.

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