Water scarcity, or a deficit in the amount of water available to humans, impacts many critical sectors of society including water supply, food security, land use, hydro-electric energy, and health. Prolonged periods of extreme water scarcity induced by drought are detrimental to regional economies through crop and livestock loss threatening food security. The drylands of the Horn of Africa region depend on seasonal rainfall to sustain subsistence (primarily rainfed) agriculture, so they are extremely vulnerable to water scarcity and food insecurity, with associated economic losses during drought conditions when the rains are well below average. These rural communities of Horn of Africa Drylands (HAD), tend to have low socio-economic levels, and low adaptive capacity to climatic shocks, such that recent severe droughts have dramatically increased food insecurity. Despite the proliferation of improved climate information for the region, and resulting improvements in early warnings, major uncertainties remain about the links between key seasonal climate variables and water scarcity, and the consequential impacts to livelihoods and wellbeing.
The DOWN2EARTH project will address the multi-faceted challenges of water scarcity and food insecurity under climate change in HAD, by facilitating community-centered adaptation and resilience to climate change impacts. It will use a multidisciplinary, inclusive approach, bringing together local communities, academic experts, novel decision-support tools, multi-level governance structures, regional climate centers, and NGOs. It will deliver state-of-the-art and community-relevant climate services that focus on water scarcity and its consequences at or near the Earth’s surface (hence DOWN2EARTH) to increasingly vulnerable rural populations in HAD. The project is designed to bolster existing climate services frameworks, improve decision support to people, governments, and NGOs serving affected rural communities in the most vulnerable HAD countries (Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia), and to improve community-centric adaptation and resilience to climate change.
Below you can learn about some key components of our project.