In the Sudano-Sahelian zone of West Africa (SSWA) agricultural production remains the main source of livelihood for rural communities, providing employment to more than 60 percent of the population and contributing to about 30% of gross domestic product. Smallholder agricultural production is dominated by rain-fed production of millet, sorghum and maize for food consumption and of cotton for the market. Farmers experience low and variable yields resulting in increasing uncertainty about the ability to produce the food needed for their families. Major factors contributing to such uncertainty and low productivity are climate variability, climate change and poor agricultural management. The objective of this thesis was to evaluate through experimentation, modelling and participatory approaches the real and perceived characteristics of climate variability and change and their effects on crop production in order to identify opportunities for enhancing the adaptive capacity of farmers in the Sudano - Sahelian zone.