Climatic Change

, Volume 110, Issue 3–4, pp 823–844 | Cite as

East African food security as influenced by future climate change and land use change at local to regional scales

  • Nathan MooreEmail author
  • Gopal Alagarswamy
  • Bryan Pijanowski
  • Philip Thornton
  • Brent Lofgren
  • Jennifer Olson
  • Jeffrey Andresen
  • Pius Yanda
  • Jiaguo Qi
Open Access


Climate change impacts food production systems, particularly in locations with large, vulnerable populations. Elevated greenhouse gases (GHG), as well as land cover/land use change (LCLUC), can influence regional climate dynamics. Biophysical factors such as topography, soil type, and seasonal rainfall can strongly affect crop yields. We used a regional climate model derived from the Regional Atmospheric Modeling System (RAMS) to compare the effects of projected future GHG and future LCLUC on spatial variability of crop yields in East Africa. Crop yields were estimated with a process-based simulation model. The results suggest that: (1) GHG-influenced and LCLUC-influenced yield changes are highly heterogeneous across this region; (2) LCLUC effects are significant drivers of yield change; and (3) high spatial variability in yield is indicated for several key agricultural sub-regions of East Africa. Food production risk when considered at the household scale is largely dependent on the occurrence of extremes, so mean yield in some cases may be an incomplete predictor of risk. The broad range of projected crop yields reflects enormous variability in key parameters that underlie regional food security; hence, donor institutions’ strategies and investments might benefit from considering the spatial distribution around mean impacts for a given region. Ultimately, global assessments of food security risk would benefit from including regional and local assessments of climate impacts on food production. This may be less of a consideration in other regions. This study supports the concept that LCLUC is a first-order factor in assessing food production risk.


Regional Climate Model Maize Yield Crop Model Yield Change Community Climate System Model 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© The Author(s) 2011

Open AccessThis is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial License (, which permits any noncommercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author(s) and source are credited.

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nathan Moore
    • 1
    • 2
    • 8
    Email author
  • Gopal Alagarswamy
    • 2
  • Bryan Pijanowski
    • 3
  • Philip Thornton
    • 4
  • Brent Lofgren
    • 5
  • Jennifer Olson
    • 6
  • Jeffrey Andresen
    • 2
  • Pius Yanda
    • 7
  • Jiaguo Qi
    • 2
  1. 1.College of Environmental and Resource SciencesZhejiang UniversityHangzhouChina
  2. 2.CGCEO, Michigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA
  3. 3.Department of Forestry and Natural ResourcesPurdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA
  4. 4.International Livestock Research InstituteNairobiKenya
  5. 5.Great Lakes Env. Research LabAnn ArborUSA
  6. 6.Communication Arts and SciencesMichigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA
  7. 7.Institute of Resources AssessmentUniversity of Dar Es SalaamDar Es SalaamTanzania
  8. 8.Department of GeographyMichigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA

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