Africa’s agriculture faces varying climate change impacts which mainly worsen production conditions and adversely affect its economies. Adaptations thus need to build the resilience of farming systems. Using “resilient adaptation” as a concept, this study analyses how adaptations at farm and policy/institutional-levels contribute to the resilience of Sub-Saharan African agriculture. The developed tool, “the Resilience Check”, provides socio-economic data which complements existing adaptation tools. The underlying development gaps such as insecure property rights, poverty, low self-organisation, inadequate climate data and infrastructure limit resilient adaptations. If farmers could implement recommended practices, existing measures and improved crops can address most impacts expected in the medium-term. However, resource use efficiency remains critical for all farm management types. Development-oriented adaptation measures are needed to provide the robust foundations for building resilience. Reaching the very poor remains a challenge and the externally driven nature of many interventions raises concern about their sustainability. The study recommends practical measures such as decentralising various services and integrating the action plans of the multilateral environmental agreements into one national action plan.