Improved Drought Early Warning and FORecasting to preparedness and adaptation to droughts in Africa.
Drought is one of the major environmental disasters in many parts of the world, particularly in Africa and some regions in Europe, and has resulted in extensive damage to the environment and economy. Recent predictions on climate change suggest this situation may worsen, projecting an increased frequency and severity of drought in these regions. However, effective disaster risk management, including the provision of advance warning to drought, and the implementation of effective drought mitigation in response, offers the potential to reduce adverse impacts. Drought preparedness and education can additionally increase resilience of affected societies, allowing them to cope better with drought and its impacts, and help break the disaster-revovery cycle.
The principal aim of the DEWFORA proposal is to develop a framework for the provision of early warning and response through drought impact mitigation for Africa. This framework will cover the whole chain from monitoring and vulnerability assessment, to forecasting, warning, response, and knowledge dissemination. DEWFORA will address existing capabilities for drought monitoring in Africa and develop improved drought indicators that consider the wider domain of water use and water users, and their dependence on variable water resources. Through these improved indicators vulnerability to drought at different scales across Africa will be assessed. These indicators will be applied to map drought vulnerability in the current climate, but also the change in drought hazard and vulnerability in the future, changed, climate. Through this understanding, drought preparedness and adaptation strategies appropriate to the African context will be developed. Warning thresholds that can be reliably forecasted, and advanced meteorological, hydrological and agricultural forecasting methods to predict these thresholds will be developed. Four regional case studies; the Eastern-Nile basin, the Limpopo Basin, the Niger basin, and the Oum-er-Rbia basin, as well as one pan-African case study will facilitate knowledge development, and through detailed comparison of drought forecasting, mitigation and adaptation practices in Europe and Africa the proposal will help advance these in Africa as well as in Europe. DEWFORA will focus on effective dissemination and knowledge transfer through interaction with stakeholders and capacity building programmes in Africa.
The proposal has been built to achieve three key targets:

  • Improved monitoring: DEWFORA will improve the knowledge on drought forecasting, warning and mitigation, and advance the understanding of climate related vulnerability to drought – both in the current and in the projected future climate.
  • Prototype operational forecasting: DEWFORA will focus on the operational implementation of advances made, bringing these to the pre-operational stage through development of prototype systems and piloting methods in operational drought monitoring and forecasting agencies.
  • Knowledge dissemination: DEWFORA will target dissemination of the advances made (i) through a stakeholders platform that includes national and regional drought monitoring and forecasting agencies, as well as NGO’s and IGO’s such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), and the Southern African Development Community (SADC), and (ii) through capacity building programmes to help embed the knowledge gained in the community of African practitioners and researchers.

To achieve these targets, the DEWFORA consortium brings together leading research institutes and universities; institutes that excel in application of state-of-the-art science in the operational domain; operational agencies responsible for (seasonal) meteorological forecasting, drought monitoring and famine warning; and established knowledge networks in Africa that will facilitate embedding of knowledge gained with researchers and practitioners across Africa and interact with policy makers, (international) governmental and non-governmental agencies and other stakeholders. The consortium provides an excellent regional balance, and the skilled coordinator and several partners have worked together in (European) research projects, implementation projects and capacity building programmes, thus building efficiently on previous and ongoing projects in Europe and Africa.
The main impact of DEWFORA will be to increase the effectiveness of drought forecasting, warning and response. The development of improved indicators of drought and thresholds, on which reliable warnings can be issued, will increase the efficiency of drought mitigation measures. Through the understanding of drought vulnerability in the future and current climate, DEWFORA will provide guidance on how and where drought preparedness and adaptation should be targeted to contribute to increased resilience and improved effectiveness of drought mitigation measures.