Availability of water is fundamental for development in the East African region. However, this vital resource is already under stress from land degradation, pollution, and overfishing. Climate change adds to these problems, greatly increasing the vulnerability of the poorest people in the region. HyCRISTAL is developing a new understanding of climate change and its impacts in the region, working with decision-makers to manage water for a more climate-resilient future.
HyCRISTAL focuses on East Africa; a rapidly developing region where, close to the equator, there are two rainy seasons per year, but includes areas which have a single dominant rainy season. The socio-economic focus region is the area of the East African Community states (Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda), but the project addresses a wider region including Somalia and Ethiopia. HyCRISTAL is supported by the East African Community and is linked to the World Meterological Office GWEX programme project HyVic.
Driven by East African priorities, the overarching goal of HyCRISTAL is to develop a new understanding of East African climate variability and change, their impacts, and to work with regional decision makers to support effective long-term (5 to 40 year) decision making in the face of a changing climate. In particular, it is designed to understand, quantify and reduce the uncertainty in the regional climate projections; and in collaboration with a range of stakeholders, co-develop climate-change coping options that meet the region’s societal needs in both urban and rural areas through a series of pilot demonstration projects, covering urban WASH, rural livelihoods, water management, tea production, transport and lake levels (see “Pilot Studies’). HyCRISTAL’s overarching goal will be achieved through the following specific objectives:
- Quantify the projections of decision-relevant quantities from state-of-the-art climate models, and their uncertainties due to model formulation and due to unknown aerosol-emission and land-use scenarios
- Determine the processes most relevant to 5-40 year East African predictions, including the effects of convection-dynamics coupling missing in all Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP) models, and evaluate their role in models, to quantify the trustworthiness of their projections
- Generate cross-level interactions to foster engagement of key stakeholders/decision-makers throughout the research process, to enable appropriate use of water, sanitation and livelihoods planning tools
- Improve critical knowledge of water availability as well as current and future risks from high-impact hydrological events based on the new understanding of future climate.
- Translate scientific understanding into appropriate water management and livelihood planning tools to enable decision-makers to assess the risk to infrastructure and livelihoods from climate change and to support the development of adaptation strategies.
- Evaluate new tools and integrated governance mechanisms in pilots, developing livelihood benefits within targeted urban and rural communities.
- Deliver a comprehensive dissemination and knowledge-sharing campaign to share evidence and tools with local decision-makers through to national and regional policy-makers.