The DOWN2EARTH project is inherently focused on maximizing impacts to people, institutions, and policy within and beyond the affected communities of HAD. The research activities proposed in our project are aimed at improving regional climate services delivery and promoting adaptation to climate change for HAD through new and enhanced decision-support tools, capacity building, citizen science, information dissemination to improve multi-level decision making, expansion of data networks, and climate change adaptation policy implementation.

Involvement of End-Users and Stakeholders

A key component in Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) is to incorporate people from different levels of society with different experiences and perspectives in projects aiming toward common goals. In order to achieve this, DOWN2EARTH will, by design, directly involve end-user agro-pastoralists and a wide range of relevant stakeholders from government, NGOs, and international/regional organizations from inception through to project completion. For example, end-user agro-pastoralists will provide critical input that will support the co-development of new decision-support tools, new climate adaptation policy frameworks, new media content on climate adaptation, and to the expansion/enhancement of in situ monitoring networks. Government and NGO stakeholders charged with managing land, water, and food resources and disaster response will be involved in discussions and presentation of new information on seasonal forecasts at climate outlook fora (GHACOF) and food security (IFRAH) meetings, and they will use this information to plan upcoming activities and allocate necessary funds based on the severity of the risk to human populations. And new decision-support tools will be delivered to the HAD region, to be incorporated into current forecasting systems, for use by ICPAC staff, as well as civil servants within governmental meteorological and management organizations in HAD. Finally, policymakers, high-level government officials and international NGOs will be involved (along with agro-pastoralist end-users) in discussions and scenarios of future policies designed for climate adaptation.

Policy Context

A primary goal of this project is to inform and improve policies on climate change adaptation to support long-term resilience of agro-pastoralist communities in HAD. We believe that the next generation of climate change adaptation policies and programs for HAD should be based on the best available information of how the climate is changing and how such changes are impacting rural livelihoods. Therefore, in DOWN2EARTH we will assess the historical policy environment in the context of the interactions between climate, land use, and human behaviors. Then we will model numerous permutations of these interactions within the context of projected future climate. Finally, we will use the model output alongside information from both agro-pastoralist communities and key stakeholders from each of the three HAD countries to develop new policy frameworks that are tailored to the needs of rural communities (ensuring that the needs of women and girls are accounted for), and which acknowledge the structural constraints of policy makers.

Climate Services Capacity Building in HAD

A primary goal of the DOWN2EARTH project is to strengthen and enhance the existing capacity of ICPAC as World Meteorological Organization (WMO) main Regional Climate Center (RCC) providing climate services. To achieve this, we will enhance existing capability to provide seasonal forecasts to a wide range of stakeholders through the Greater Horn of Africa Climate Outlook Forums (GHACOFs), a meeting of ~200 organizations from eight drought-prone member states, and numerous other international organizations (UN). DOWN2EARTH will improve upon the climate information delivered at these popular and well-attended regional GHACOF and IFRAH meetings by incorporating information from these three countries on soil moisture and groundwater storage, as well as crop yields into climate forecasts. Our hydrological model, which will be hosted and implemented on ICPAC servers, thus ensuring the extended impact of our project far beyond its lifetime. ICPAC will also host technical training workshops to instruct personnel at other institutions across their member states on the use of CUWALID to understand how climate translates into water scarcity and food insecurity, as well as on interpretation of the data outputs from the model (Task 4.2). In addition, the our project’s desktop and mobile phone apps will be hosted at ICPAC and incorporated into its existing early warning system infrastructure.