UON IN 6.7 MILLION EURO DOWN2EARTH PROJECT- Major International project to tackle climate change resilience in the Horn of Africa.
New €6.7M project aims to help rural East African communities adapt to climate change using state-of-the-art predictions of water scarcity and food insecurity.
An international team of researchers and organisations have been awarded over €6.7M from EU Horizon 2020 to help tackle food and water insecurity in the Horn of Africa Drylands (HAD).
The DOWN2EARTH project received €6.7m funding through the Horizon 2020 programme and is made up of partners from universities, a regional climate services centre, a climate policy think tank, a UN organisation, a media organisation, and a humanitarian charity. Partners include: Cardiff University, University of Bristol, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, University of Hohenheim, IGAD Climate Prediction and Applications Center (ICPAC), Ghent University, University of East Anglia, Food and Agriculture Organization-Somalia Water and Land Information System (FAO-SWALIM), Climate Analytics, BBC Media Action, Action Aid, Transparency Solutions, University of Nairobi, and Addis Ababa University.
Led by scientists at Cardiff University with substantial contributions from 13 other partners in 7 countries, the EU project, called DOWN2EARTH, will employ state-of-the-art seasonal forecasts and decadal projections of climate change and translate this into clear and concise information that can be used by farmers and pastoralists, communities, NGOs and governments to mitigate the negative impacts of climate change on rural livelihoods.
Dr. Oliver Vivian Wasonga from the University of Nairobi, Department of Land Resource Management and Agricultural Technology will be representing the University of Nairobi in the consortium as a Co-Principal Investigator, a member of the project management committee and will lead the project implementation at the University of Nairobi and project Coordinator from Kenya.
A major component of DOWN2EARTH involves improving the accuracy of forecasting climate variability in critical rainy seasons and assessing its impact on the total amount of water stored in soils for agriculture and deeper underground for drinking water supplies.
This improved forecasting will help to better predict impacts on farming, food and water production and increase resilience across this extremely vulnerable region, allowing the population to make better, more informed decisions.
“Adaptation to climate change requires better and more timely information about the expression of climate at the land surface, in soil moisture required to grow crops and groundwater for drinking,” said Principal Investigator of DOWN2EARTH Dr Michael Singer, from Cardiff University’s School of Earth and Ocean Sciences and Water Research Institute.
“This information needs to be delivered to people making decisions at multiple levels of society, from rural agro-pastoralist villagers deciding what and when to plant crops or move their herds, to government ministries developing new land and water management policies, to NGOs mounting humanitarian responses to drought-related famine.”

A key aspect of DOWN2EARTH will be the support given to multi-level stakeholders about how to expand their knowledge of the climate and to better use information that is gathered from climate monitoring and predicting systems.
“We will do this in the form of desktop and mobile phone apps that deliver timely information from our modelling on projected water storage and crop yields for upcoming seasons. This information, based on the best available climate forecasts, will be co-developed with the target stakeholders to ensure it is useful to improve decision making at all levels from village to government ministry,” Dr Singer said.
The project focuses on the Horn of Africa drylands (HAD) in Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia, one of the most food insecure regions on Earth. The rural communities of the HAD are particularly vulnerable to food insecurity and associated economic losses during drought conditions due to low socio-economic levels and limited ability to respond to these climatic shocks.
The project will also assess the socio-economic dimensions and human dynamics of climate change including feedbacks between climatic shocks, human behaviour and policy implementation.
Ultimately, DOWN2EARTH aims to strengthen regional climate services through capacity building, citizen science, information dissemination, expansion of data networks, and policy implementation.
“The broader goal here is to support the co-creation of new climate adaptation policies that acknowledge the needs of rural villagers and also remain faithful to the best available science on future climate change,” Dr Singer continued.
Part of the work will be implemented by project partner -BBC Media-Action who will be developing and training radio stations in the region to produce new programmatic content addressing issues of climate change adaptation.

College of Agriculture & Veterinary Science, University of Nairobi
African Dryland Institute for Sustainability , University of Nairobi