Tackle climate change resilience in the Horn of Africa

An international team of researchers and organisations, including Jeroen Aerts and his team, has been awarded over €6.7m from EU Horizon 2020 to help tackle food and water insecurity in the Horn of Africa Drylands (HAD). The project aims to help rural East African communities adapt to climate change using state-of-the-art predictions of water scarcity and food insecurity.

05/29/2020 | 9:53 AM

Led by scientists at Cardiff University with substantial contributions from thirteen other partners in seven countries – including professor of Water and Climate Risk Jeroen Aerts and his team Anne van Loon, Dim Coumou and Toon Haer – the EU project, DOWN2EARTH, will employ state-of-the-art seasonal forecasts and  decadal projections of climate change and translate this into clear and concise information that can be used by farmers and pastoralists, communities, NGOs and governments to mitigate the negative impacts of climate change on rural livelihoods. 

A major component of DOWN2EARTH involves improving the accuracy of forecasting climate variability in critical rainy seasons and assessing its impact on the total amount of water stored in soils for agriculture and deeper underground for drinking water supplies. This improved forecasting will help to better predict impacts on farming, food and water production and increase resilience across this extremely vulnerable region, allowing the population to make better, more informed decisions.

 "Adapting to climate change requires insight into both the water system and how it responds to climate change, but also how people respond to it. Better and more timely information about drought is used by farmers to take measures such as irrigation or planting other crops", says IVM's project leader Anne van Loon.

“This information is delivered to people who make decisions using new apps and special radio broadcasts. This allows farmers to make timely decisions when to plant crops or move their herds". In addition to farmers, DOWN2EARTH wants to support governments and NGOs to expand climate knowledge at multiple levels and to make better use of information gathered from climate monitoring and prediction systems.

The project will also assess the socio-economic dimensions and human dynamics of climate change including feedbacks between climatic shocks, human behaviour and policy implementation. Ultimately, DOWN2EARTH aims to strengthen regional climate services through capacity building, citizen science, information dissemination, expansion of data networks, and policy implementation.

Image credits: BBC Media Action.