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Climate risk screening

Climate change and disaster risks screening is the initial step in a proactive process to ensure the impacts of extreme weather events and climate change and relevant resilience measures are mainstreamed throughout all projects and programmes, according to FAO's Environmental and Social Management Guidelines. 

An early identification and assessment of climate risks strengthens project proposals and enables fundamental decisions to be taken around the project location, targeted communities, and to avoid social-ecological trade-offs. In agriculture, risk minimizing approaches must consider and account for the collective impact of individual livelihood choices of smallholder farmer households.

Climate change and disaster risks are the cumulative result of:

  • Potential occurrence/frequency and severity of climate-related hazards
  • Exposure of the system to the hazard over time
  • Vulnerability or ability of the affected system and population to cope with the hazard or impact (adaptive capacity)

Risks are calculated based on a series of guiding questions and subsequent steps are identified to comprehensively incorporate climate risks into project formulation. Click here to see the screening checklist.

The screening process


All projects are screened for climate risks at Project Identification (PIF) stage to allow for timely inclusion of mitigation measures in the project proposal. A screening checklist with a series of guiding questions is used to calculate climate risk, understood as a function of hazard, exposure, vulnerability and adaptive capacity.

The steps of the screening process are:


Step 1: Identify the current and future weather-related hazards that are likely to affect agricultural systems (including crops, fisheries/aquaculture, livestock and forestry) and the population in the project’s locations. Hazards may include short-term, or acute, shocks (e.g. extreme events of storm, fire or flood), and slow onset, or chronic, events that occur over a long period of time (e.g. drought).

Step 2: Identify the exposure of the project area to the hazards based on information related to presence of people, agricultural livelihoods, species or ecosystems, environmental functions, services, and resources, infrastructure; or economic, social, or cultural assets in places and settings that could be adversely affected.
Step 3: Identify the degree to which a system is susceptible to, and unable to cope with, adverse effects of climate change (CC), including climate variability and extremes. Individuals and communities are differentially vulnerable depending on factors including wealth, education, gender, age, disability and heath. Reflect on the current social, economic and political factors in your project area. Examples of factors to consider include access to technology, prices (particularly food and energy), financial resources, conflict, political instability, legal enforcement, population growth, urbanization, pollution, land ownership issues, land and soil quality, nutrition, education, and life expectancy.

Step 4: Assess the degree to which a system or a community is unable to cope with the adverse effects of climate change, including climate variability and extremes. Some of the factors to consider include access to climate information, technology, land ownership, institutional support, financial mechanisms, etc.
Step 5: Based on the questions in the screening checklist, the project developer identifies potential climate related risks and hazards in the project area and obtains a climate risk classification as ‘No/Low’, ‘Moderate’, ‘High or ‘Very High’ risk. 


Very high risk

Detailed climate impact/risk assessment are mandatory in order to adequately identify measures to reduce risks. Measures to manage or reduce climate risks should be identified and applied.

High risk

Detailed climate impact/risk assessment are recommended in order to adequately identify measures to reduce risks. Measures to manage or reduce climate risks should be identified and applied.

Moderate risk

Additional screening, studies and consultations are recommended to ensure that the risks identified are fully understood and addressed in the project design. Follow guidance on more detailed risk assessment.

Low/no risk

No action required, but recommended to monitor risk throughout the project development.

Step 6: Identify areas in which climate risk can be modulated from weather-related natural hazards. 

Based on previous assessments, specific resilience recommendations and climate risk mitigation measures are identified.

Half moons in Tera, Niger. ©FAO/Giulio Napolitano

Dryland soils such as the ones in Niger tend to be vulnerable to wind and water erosion, subject to intensive mineral weathering, and of low fertility (due to the low content of organic matter in the topsoil). Drylands are characterised by a scarcity of water, shaped by a combination of low precipitation, droughts and heat waves, as well as human activities such as fire use and livestock grazing.

Ahead of the rainy season, farmers use half and mid-moons as an agricultural technique to improve water management. Half moons can improve the efficiency of fertilizers by adding the required amount to the planting holes instead of spreading them over the entire field areas. They also help reduce soil erosion and increase macronutrient deposition.