Learning Event Explores PREPARED’s Efforts to Increase Resiliency In East Africa

PREPARED worked with Uganda’s National Water and Sewerage Corporation to reduce the loss of water from supply and distribution pipelines in two urban areas in Uganda near the northern shores of Lake Victoria. Photo credit: USAID/East Africa

This September, the five-and-a-half year Planning for Resilience in East Africa through Policy, Adaptation, Research, and Economic Development (PREPARED) will come to an end. USAID Kenya and East Africa partnered with various regional institutions–such as the East African Community Secretariat and its Partner States and the Lake Victoria Basin Commission, among others–with the goal of increasing institutional capacity and resiliency in addressing challenges related to climate changes and vulnerability.

On June 14, a panel of program experts and leaders participated in a learning event at the Wilson Center in Washington, DC, to discuss the three key components (climate change adaptation, biodiversity, and water supply and security) and outcomes of the PREPARED project.

Marc Levy, deputy director of the Center for International Earth Science Information Network at Columbia University, discussed the first prong of the approach. In an effort to promote evidence-based management of resilience, PREPARED worked with the center and other partners to created tools to fill data gaps. Collecting data from weather stations and supplementing it with statistical models helped the project map climate change vulnerability in East Africa, which in turn allowed leaders to manage risk and develop methods to improve resiliency.

Deputy Chief of Party Chelsea Keyser  explained the program’s approach to strengthening biodiversity and ecosystem resiliency. The program conducted a comprehensive literature review, used data from the vulnerability maps, and incorporated local opinions to identify nine biologically significant areas upon which to focus conservation efforts. Ultimately, PREPARED consulted with hundreds of stakeholders to develop multi-sectoral, multi-level conservation and management plans pertaining to biodiversity and ecosystem resiliency. In one instance, these efforts led to the expansion of protected wetlands in the Nabugabo region of Uganda.

Finally, PREPARED’s Chief of Party Scott McCormick spoke about the activity’s water security programming, which included creating a framework for the joint management of various river basins, supporting joint water allocation plans, and increasing stakeholder engagement in local communities. One of the most important aspects of PREPARED’s work in water security was reducing non-revenue water losses, which can put stress on already vulnerable communities.

After exploring PREPARED’s approach, moderator Tegan Blaine, senior climate change advisor and team lead at USAID’s Bureau for Africa, turned the floor over to the audience for questions that explored local involvement as well as institutional and resiliency-related challenges. Keyser and Levy both highlighted the importance of empowering and building capacity among local and regional leaders in eastern Africa. Involving these leaders in the process from the beginning enabled PREPARED to apply best practices to and adapt program goals in the local context.

The hope for the long-term results of PREPARED, according to Blaine, is that local community members will continue to be empowered to articulate the challenges they face and envision adaptation solutions across a variety of regions and institutional levels. The tools PREPARED created and provided are a step in accomplishing that goal of resiliency.

Interested in learning more? Watch a recording of the event here.

By Claire Hubert of the USAID/E3 Bureau Water Office’s Water CKM Project