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We're working with rural communities in Africa to protect them against climate change, food and water insecurity.

DOWN2EARTH aims to help rural East African communities to adapt to climate change, using state-of-the-art predictions of water scarcity and food insecurity. Prof. Roger Few and Dr Mark Tebboth at UEA are playing lead roles in this €6.7M project.  

Challenge

Some communities are more susceptible than most to the impact of climate change, which can lead to water scarcity, food insecurity and climatic shocks. 

Arid and semi-arid regions are highly dynamic environments where multiple pressures combine to shape people’s lives and their vulnerability to specific threats such as climate change.

Collaboration

Funded by the EU Horizon 2020 programme, DOWN2EARTH brings together an interdisciplinary team of international scientists. The project is led by Cardiff University with substantial contributions from 13 other partners in seven different countries.

Project aims

DOWN2EARTH aims to mitigate the negative impacts of climate change on rural lives and livelihoods in the Horn of Africa Drylands. The team works together to help communities in Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia to tackle food and water insecurity.

The Horn of Africa Drylands is one of the most food insecure regions on Earth. Rural communities here are particularly vulnerable to food insecurity and related economic losses during droughts, due to low socio-economic levels and a limited ability to respond to climatic shocks.

Using state-of-the-art seasonal forecasts and decadal projections of climate change, the team translates data into clear, concise, practical information that can be used by farmers, pastoralists and local communities. The data will also help NGOs and governments to strengthen regional climate services through capacity building, citizen science, information dissemination, data network expansion and policy implementation. 

The project utilises all kinds of data from the best available climate forecasts to models of projected water storage and crop yields for upcoming seasons to:

  • Assess the socio-economic dimensions and human dynamics of climate change, including feedbacks between climatic shocks, human behaviour and policy implementation.
  • Improve the accuracy of forecasting climate variability in critical rainy seasons and assess the impact on water stored in soils for agriculture and deeper underground for drinking water.
  • Help to better predict impacts on farming, food and water production to increase resilience across this extremely vulnerable region, allowing everyone from farmers to governments to make better, more informed decisions.
  • Co-develop climate monitoring and predicting systems with stakeholders, helping them to expand their climate knowledge and use timely information delivered to desktops and mobile phone apps.

Professor Roger Few and Dr Mark Tebboth 

Roger and Mark are key members of the teams at our School of International Development and Tyndall Centre for Climate Research.

Making a real difference at the heart of the DOWN2EARTH project, they lead the work in rural communities to understand gendered decision-making for climate adaptation. They are designing an integrated programme of research in rural communities, differentiated by age, gender and ethnicity, on adaptations to climate shocks and climate change, and on engagement with technology.

To avoid exacerbating inequalities and vulnerabilities, they will make sure everyone has a voice and different views and needs in communities are heard. After all, rural communities are not homogenous, nor representable by consulting only with village heads who are typically older, wealthier and male.

Their work is a real collaboration with the University of Nairobi, Addis Ababa University and Action Aid whose field teams go into different communities. 

“Our key role in the programme will be to ground the development of new technologies in the everyday realities of people who live and work in these dryland environments. Our job, as social scientists, is to gain a holistic understanding of people’s information needs, what would be useful to them, and how it can best be delivered, to make sure that technologies and tools developed by others in the consortium are appropriate and useful.”

Professor Roger Few

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