The Horn of Africa is a region plagued by recurrent droughts, which makes rural communities extremely vulnerable to water scarcity, food insecurity and economic losses during drought periods. Severe and prolonged droughts result in reduced soil moisture and groundwater reserves, which can lead to food insecurity, livestock loss and major water shortages; resources on which millions of people within the Horn of Africa drylands heavily rely.
The EU-funded DOWN2EARTH project will improve community-centric adaptation and resilience to droughts in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia. The project will assess and address critical research gaps within these dryland regions, including i) how climate change affects the characteristics of rainfall and groundwater storage, ii) how the evolution of hydrological processes will impact the people who depend on them, and (iii) how local communities can best adapt to drought risk. DOWN2EARTH will employ state-of-the-art seasonal forecasts and decadal projections of climate change and develop community-relevant climate services for the agro-pastoral populations, through for example a mobile application.
The role of VU Amsterdam will be to increase the understanding of the interaction between hydrology and human behaviour, the development of drought impacts, and how individual human adaptation decisions, anticipation on forecast information and government policies can reduce these impacts. This will be done through i.a. simulations of agent-based models and the establishment of a drought impact database. In close cooperation with thirteen (local) project partners, this should finally result in improved climate adaptation policy frameworks, as well as increased regional capacity to cope with droughts in a constantly changing future climate.
This study is conducted in collaboration with Cardiff University, University of Bristol, Ghent University, University of East Anglia, University of Hohenheim, IGAD Climate Prediction and Applications Center, Action Aid, Food and Agriculture Organization-Somalia Water and Land Information Management, Climate Analytics, BBC Media Action, Transparency Solutions, University of Nairobi and Addis Ababa University.