Preparing East Africa for an Uncertain Future
Rising temperatures and an increase in extreme weather events in East Africa are impacting community livelihoods, the regional economy, and access to improved water and sanitation. Against this backdrop, USAID launched Planning for Resilience in East Africa through Policy, Adaptation, Research and Economic Development (PREPARED) in 2012, to help build the region’s capacity to plan and adapt to the impacts of a changing climate.
The project developed a series of geospatial tools (GeoTools) to help national and regional institutions improve forecasting of seasonal weather variations. One of these tools, GeoCLIM, developed in partnership with the U.S. Geological Survey, analyzes historical and projected climate data and creates climatic trend maps in regions of need, including Lake Victoria, a key water source that borders Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda. Using GeoCLIM, PREPARED created “vulnerability maps” to show which populations are most at risk during droughts and floods.
The knowledge gained from GeoCLIM and other GeoTools helped inform another key component of PREPARED—improving the resilience of transboundary freshwater ecosystems. Using the vulnerability maps along with other research, the program identified nine biologically significant areas upon which to focus conservation efforts, resulting in the expansion of protected wetlands in Uganda’s Nabugabo region and the development of the first transboundary agreement between Kenya and Tanzania to manage the Mara River Basin.
PREPARED’s goal, according to Project Director Scott McCormick, is to improve “the capacity to cope with uncertainty rather than react to a specific climate event.” Building that capacity through training and technical assistance, PREPARED provides decision-makers in East Africa with the tools to make more strategic, evidence-based water management decisions, and ultimately, make the region more resilient.