Collaboration receives £450K to explore building resiliance to drought in Ethiopia

Collaboration receives £450K to explore building resiliance to drought in Ethiopia

A collaboration involving the University of Aberdeen and the James Hutton Institute has been awarded approximately £450K to carry out two research projects into building resilience to drought in Ethiopia and the interaction between organic resource use and food, energy and water.

The two projects are funded by the NERC-DFID El Niňo programme and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Nexus Network and bring together a team from the University of Aberdeen, the James Hutton Institute, the Southern Agricultural Research Institute and Hawassa University carrying out research in Awassa, in Southern Ethiopia. 

The BREAD project, funded by the NERC-DFID El Niňo programme and led by Professor Jo Smith from the University of Aberdeen, on “Building Resilience in Ethiopia’s Awassa region to Drought (BREAD)” aims to understand the impact of the last year’s drought in Southern Ethiopia on communities, individuals and natural resources and find ways of building resilience to drought so that communities and individuals are more prepared for the next El Niňo event.

One of the resilience building measures to be considered is better use of organic resources to improve soils. This will be supported by the work generated by a second project the team will carry out, IPORE, which is funded by ESRC and the Nexus Network.

The IPORE project, which is led by Professor Euan Phimister from the University of Aberdeen on “Improving Organic Resource use in rural Ethiopia” aims to increase understanding of the interactions between food, energy and water, associated with organic resource use.

The two projects are interdisciplinary collaborations involving natural scientists, social scientists and economists.

Professor Smith said: “The NERC–DFID El Niňo programme provides an important opportunity to help agricultural communities in Ethiopia to be better prepared for the next drought, while the ESRC Nexus programme will ensure that recommended resilience building measures and use of organic resources provide best access to food, water and energy.

“This collaboration brings together world leading expertise in natural sciences, social sciences, economics and systems modelling from Scotland and Ethiopia to provide a unique approach to an issue that has been of global concern for many years.”

Dr Anja Byg from the James Hutton Institute said: “The BREAD project is a timely and important opportunity to study the impacts of the 2015 El Niño event which caused widespread drought and crop failure in Ethiopia. Events such as these are likely to become worse in the future and it is therefore key to work with Ethiopian researchers and stakeholders to identify potential mechanisms which can help farmers in Ethiopia to become better equipped to cope with such events.”