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Research in Eastern Africa to look at climate and water prospects




November 23, 2015


*Now available: downloadable report on the East Africa launch* On 23 September, the Future Climate For Africa programme (FCFA) launched its regional research in East Africa with the endorsement of the Prime Minister of Uganda. The launch event in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, was well received by local authorities, as there was participation by the Prime Minister Rt. Hon. Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda, acting Minister of Water and Environment Hon. Flavia Nabugera Munaaba, and other key stakeholder groups, such as the National Fisheries Resources Research Institute (NaFIRRI) and National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO). Lake Victoria provided the backdrop for the three days of discussion, in which HyCRISTAL (FCFA’s East African research consortium) engaged with academics and stakeholders to address East African climate issues. East Africa is expected to encounter heightened issues around food security, flooding, and water quality. Participants felt strongly that climate change is an issue that needs to be addressed in order to ensure the success of Ugandan agriculture and livelihoods. Hon. Flavia Nabugera Munaaba said: In order for the government to make the right decisions and for the region to realise its developmental aspirations, there is need for a better understanding of the complexities of our weather and climate systems.   Rt. Hon. Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda emphasised the immediateness of Uganda’s concerns around climate impacts, and need to find both short- and long- term solutions: “Today we are living with amazing evidence of degradation under climate change. We have seen landslides in the West of Uganda take the lives of hundreds of people. The future is already with us, the damage is already with us, it is just a question of time and if we don’t take the necessary mitigating measures, we will see greater catastrophe. Hence the importance of this gathering of scientists.” On the opportunity to strengthen communications between policy-makers and scientists, Rt.Hon Dr Rugunda added: “It is important to get tangible data and advice to policy-makers so that the right policies can be made and so that mitigation can actually take place, to reduce the damage that is already being caused.” He added that information was needed not only regarding climate change projections, but regarding the impacts of climate change on populations, and their specific vulnerabilities. At the event, participants enjoyed dynamic presentations on climate science and hydrology and the application of climate science in decision-making. The climate science presentation was much anticipated and discussed reconciling past and future climate change trends in East Africa. Importantly, this covered the ‘East African Paradox’, which identifies that rainfall has been decreasing steadily in the region according to historic, observed trends; however, climate models show that rainfall will increase in the future, however the projections are associated with high levels of uncertainty. This is one of the key areas of focus for HyCRISTAL as both trends will have significant consequences for the Lake Victoria Basin Climate projections show a warming trend in East Africa in the decades ahead, but changes in rainfall and weather extremes are currently uncertain. HyCRISTAL will tackle current uncertainties, concentrating in particular on what they mean for the availability and management of water. HyCRISTAL will improve our understanding of key climate-water processes in the region, and then work in partnership with a wide range of stakeholders to apply this knowledge in two different settings: rural communities that rely on agriculture and fishing; and urban populations where water supply and sanitation are under pressure “East Africa has a rapidly growing population and in particular has very rapid urbanisation and much of that is focussed on the Lake Victoria Basin. With that, urbanisation increasingly pressurises both water supply and sanitation services. Under climate change, we expect changes in rainfall intensities, which will affect the infrastructure for meeting these development needs,” said Dr John Marsham of the University of Leeds, UK, who is Principal Investigator for HyCRISTAL. By developing climate science and helping water users assess their vulnerabilities, the HyCRISTAL project will increase the resilience of communities in East Africa. This will include the production of new, accessible, understandable and easy to- use tools for water resource management in a changing climate. The methods and tools developed will then be applied to decision-making processes. HyCRISTAL forms the East African-focused component of the FCFA programme, which covers sub-Saharan Africa as a whole. For news on other research initiatives supported by FCFA, visit the FCFA brochure or explore ‘Locations’ in the menu above. Don’t miss our downloadable report on the East Africa launch  
HyCRISTAL team, local partners and stakeholders and the acting minister of water and environment Hon. Flavia Nabugera Munaaba. Photo by - Julio Araujo

HyCRISTAL team, local partners, stakeholders and the acting minister of water and environment Hon. Flavia Nabugera Munaaba. Photo by – Julio Araujo

HyCRISTAL core Team and Ugandan prime minister Rt. Hon. Dr. Ruhakana Ragunda. Photo by - Julio Araujo

HyCRISTAL core Team and Ugandan prime minister Rt. Hon. Dr. Ruhakana Ragunda. Photo by – Julio Araujo