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Climate change predictions crucial for future planning decisions in East Africa

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Representatives from the Walker Institute have joined international delegates at a meeting in Uganda aiming to develop approaches which use the predicted impact of climate change to better inform long-term planning decisions. East Africa has a growing population, and its climate is changing. The impact of these changes must be factored into future developments across the region.

The Integrating Hydro-Climate Science into Policy Decisions for Climate-Resilient Infrastructure and Livelihoods in East Africa project (HyCRISTAL) is working to improve the accuracy of climate change predictions for the region, and also to use that information to inform long-term planning decisions. The annual HyCRISTAL meeting was held between the 23rd and the 27th of April 2018 in Kampala and attended by delegates from across Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, the UK and USA. Rt Hon Cecilia Atim Ogwal, Deputy Speaker in the Uganda Parliament, opened the meeting, emphasising the importance of planning ahead in order to deal with a changing climate, especially to ensure the protection of the region’s most vulnerable people:

"I want to urge the participants to help Uganda and Africa to tap the appropriate research data and knowledge, to help build climate resilient infrastructure,” she said. "We as parliamentarians can help you to develop policies that can direct your information to the right place."

Rt Hon Cecilia Atim Ogwal opens HyCRISTAL meeting 2018

HyCRISTAL addresses the use of climate change information for rural adaptation, urban water and sanitation, and water management, with linked projects supporting the IDAPS Integrated Data Platform, tea production and Lake Victoria transport systems.

Professor Ros Cornforth, Director of the Walker Institute at the University of Reading and the HyCRISTAL Rural Lead emphasised the need for closer collaboration between researchers and policymakers:

She said: “We are working together with Evidence for Development, the Uganda National Council for Science and Technology and the National Emergency Coordination and Operations Centre in the Office of the Prime Minister to integrate climate change information with livelihoods data. This will help policy makers examine the synthesised evidence and develop more appropriate national responses for the most vulnerable populations in rural parts of Uganda.”

Dr John Marsham (water@leeds, University of Leeds and National Centre for Atmospheric Science, UK), the HyCRISTAL project leader, said: “Droughts and floods already threaten lives and livelihoods across East Africa and increases in weather extremes from climate change will make existing problems worse.

"Integrating our knowledge of climate change into decisions being made today will save both money and lives in coming decades.”

Professor Barbara Evans, HyCRISTAL Urban Lead (water@leeds and University of Leeds) said, “We are working with Kampala and Kisumu city authorities to develop water and sanitation solutions that are more resilient to the increased flooding we expect in the years to come.”

Dr David Rowell (Met Office, UK) noted: “Events like the recent high-impact floods in Kenya are likely to become more frequent in the future. HyCRISTAL is studying the impacts of such events and what decisions can be taken today to reduce those future impacts.”

HyCRISTAL is part of the Future Climate for Africa programme, a five-year research programme (2014 – 2019) funded by the UK Department for International Development and the Natural Environment Research Council.

For more information on the HyCRISTAL project, click here. More information on Future Climate for Africa is available here.