HyCRISTAL: Integrating Hydro-Climate Science into Policy Decisions for Climate-Resilient Infrastructure and Livelihoods in East Africa

Lead Research Organisation: NERC British Geological Survey
Department Name: Groundwater


East Africa (EA) has one of the world's fastest growing populations, with maxima around water-bodies and rapid urbanisation. Climate change is adding to existing problems increasing vulnerability of the poorest. HyCRISTAL is driven by EA priorities. EA communities rely on rainfall for food via agriculture. EA's inland lakes are rain-fed and provide water, power and fisheries. For EA's growing cities, climate impacts on water resources will affect water supply & treatment. HyCRISTAL will therefore operate in both urban & rural contexts.

Change in water availability will be critical for climate-change impacts in EA, but projections are highly uncertain for rain, lakes, rivers and groundwater, and for extremes. EA "Long-Rains" are observed to be decreasing; while models tend to predict an increase (the "EA Climate paradox") although predictions are not consistent. This uncertainty provides a fundamental limit on the utility of climate information to inform policy. HyCRISTAL will therefore make best use of current projections to quantify uncertainty in user-relevant quantities and provide ground-breaking research to understand and reduce the uncertainty that currently limits decision making.

HyCRISTAL will work with users to deliver world-leading climate research quantifying uncertainty from natural variability, uncertainty from climate forcings including those previously unassessed, and uncertainty in response to these forcings; including uncertainties from key processes such as convection and land-atmopshere coupling that are misrepresented in global models. Research will deliver new understanding of the mechanisms that drive the uncertainty in projections. HyCRISTAL will use this information to understand trends, when climate-change signals will emerge and provide a process-based expert judgement on projections. Working with policy makers, inter-disciplinary research (hydrology, economics, engineering, social science, ecology and decision-making) will quantify risks for rural & urban livelihoods, quantify climate impacts and provide the necessary tools to use climate information for decision making.

HyCRISTAL will work with partners to co-produce research for decision-making on a 5-40 year timescale, demonstrated in 2 main pilots for urban water and policies to enable adaptive climate-smart rural livelihoods. These cover two of three "areas of need" from the African Ministerial Council on Environment's Comprehensive Framework of African Climate Change Programmes. HyCRISTAL has already engaged 12 partners from across EA. HyCRISTAL's Advisory Board will provide a mechanism for further growing stakeholder engagement.

HyCRISTAL will work with the FCFA global & regional projects and CCKE, sharing methods, tools, user needs, expertise & communication. Uniquely, HyCRISTAL will capitalise on the new LVB-HyNEWS, an African-led consortium, governed by the East African Community, the Lake Victoria Basin Commission and National Meteorological and Hydrological agencies, with the African Ministerial Conference on Meteorology as an observer.

HyCRISTAL will build EA capacity directly via collaboration (11 of 25 HyCRISTAL Co-Is are African, with 9 full-time in Africa), including data collection and via targeted workshops and teaching. HyCRISTAL will deliver evidence of impact, with new and deep climate science insights that will far outlast its duration. It will support decisions for climate-resilient infrastructure and livelihoods through application of new understanding in its pilots, with common methodological and infrastructure lessons to promote policy and enable transformational change for impact-at-scale. Using a combination of user-led and science-based management tools, HyCRISTAL will ensure the latest physical science, engineering and social-science yield maximum impacts. HyCRISTAL will deliver outstanding outputs across FCFA's aims; synergies with LVB-HyNEWS will add to these and ensure longevity beyond HyCRISTAL.

Planned Impact

HyCRISTAL will have a positive impact on 7 groups of beneficiaries through the process and research outcomes.
Communities will have the opportunity to access, input to, and benefit via their livelihoods from the research. Development options and pathways for climate-smart fisheries/agriculture, sustainable water use, access & distribution, will enhance productive and WASH outcomes in the region with such measurable livelihood improvements as greater levels of savings or tradeable assets. At least 400 households will participate in the adaptation trials. Wider engagement will occur via community exchanges, district workshops and regional learning platforms.
Close links with resource planners and government policymakers (East African Community, Lake Victoria Basin Commission, Uganda National Water and Sewerage Co, Local Authorities) will facilitate the 2-way flow of information, tools & guidance needed to support livelihoods & water management. Training will be tailored to user needs and through inclusive participation, empower women & youth to co-design and better apply planning tools. These stakeholders will act as researcher-advocates and contribute to policy uptake via "fit-for-purpose" evidence of the pilot outcomes. Value-added impact of such interventions on the local economy & livelihoods will result from investments to Treasury & donors. Local/sub-national governments in the region now have devolved responsibilities for climate services and will also benefit from improved evidence of benefits.
These will benefit from robust quantitative & qualitative evidence to inform programmes of support to national innovation support systems (including advisory services, SME promotion, regulatory frameworks). USAID & EU, World Bank, UNEP, UNDP, WFP, WHO and others are active in this region and will be invited to participate in the high-level Learning Platforms.
4) NGOs
Close collaboration with international (Practical Action) & local NGOs (Rural Environment & Development Organisation, OSIENALA, Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern & Southern Africa) will inform their livelihood and WASH programs development and provide evidence of their own interventions and modes of working with pilot communities.
CSOs, national/sub-national farmer/fisher & urban organizations will benefit from evidence supporting lobbying for improved water services and climate-smart fisheries/agriculture management. Some CSOs already provide innovation support services (Uganda National Farmers Federation) and will be able to use the project findings to enhance such service provision. Engagement with CSOs & the media (local FM stations) will raise awareness of the research process and outcomes (planning information & decision tools). Wider coverage of the research & analytical methods will help to showcase benefits & attract future investment, stimulating collaborations beyond HyCRISTAL
HyCRISTAL will work with weather forecasters, hydrologists, hydrogeologists & users of medium-long-range forecasts, through project partnerships. These partners benefit via access to improved climate risk information and by strengthening utility of their climate services at regional to community levels.
African companies (Kisumu Water and Sewerage Company) will benefit from exposure to the knowledge products helping to inform their future business plans. Communities across the region will indirectly benefit from improved innovation support policies and interventions that are evidence based and tuned to the ways in which they seek support in their innovation & livelihood decision-making resulting in increased household capacity to invest in new livelihood options as current ones become unsusustainable


10 25 50
Description There have been two publications which fit into narrative impact: Firstly a review paper on Urban water quality in Sub-Saharan Africa, published in Hydrogeology Journal in 2016 and secondly a policy publication called 'Burning questions: East African climate variability and change' published by CDKN - http://2016report.futureclimateafrica.org/reader/east-africa/burning-questions-east-african-climate-variability-and-change/. Hydrological modelling BGS is undertaking in the Katonga catchment is being used by Ugandan Ministry for Water and Environment as part of the water management zone planning activities for this region. The future climate impact modelling work has been extended to the wider Lake Victoria Basin
First Year Of Impact 2017
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink,Communities and Social Services/Policy,Environment,Healthcare
Impact Types Policy & public services

Description Katonga catchment hydrological modelling
Geographic Reach Africa 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a national consultation
Title Data set publication: High resolution meteorological data from a network of five stations in Kampala, Uganda 
Description Macdonald, D.M.J.; Miller, J.D.; Winterbourn, J.B.; Warnaars, T.A.; Mwebembezi, L.; Arwat, P.; Tanywa, S. (2018): High resolution meteorological data from a network of five stations in Kampala, Uganda. Centre for Environmental Data Analysis, date of citation. doi:10.5285/a2a8100c46794985b410ea436f24812a. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2018 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Contribution so far: Flood inundation modelling in Kampala Lake Victoria climate project - NCAS plane flight and associated PhD 
URL http://dx.doi.org/10.5285/a2a8100c46794985b410ea436f24812a
Description Collaboration with UCL - 3 MSc student projects using TLF in urban settings 
Organisation University College London
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution MSc projects were undertaken in collaboration with UCL testing and applying TLF methods to understand water quality in urban settings supervised by Richard Taylor and James Sorensen.
Collaborator Contribution 3 MSc students - fieldwork and project writeup
Impact 6 MSc research project dissertations: 2019 Mark Turner, MSc, University College London - Characterising effluent plumes in the Dakar Aquifer, Senegal 2019 Olivia Roshanna Fokeerah, MSc, University College London - Relationship between on-site sanitation and groundwater quality in Lukaya, Uganda 2019 Robert Lyness, MSc, University College London - Evaluating a low-cost optical TLF sensor for the real-time detection of faecal contamination 2018 Andrew Carr, MSc, University College London - Monitoring the relationship between heavy rainfall and faecal contamination of groundwater in Lukaya, Uganda 2018 Laura van der Marel, MSc, University College London - Groundwater contamination and its vulnerability - a comparative analysis of culture-based and real-time methods in Kisumu, 2018 Raphaelle Roffo, MSc, University College London - Mapping risks of faecal contamination of shallow groundwater in Dakar, Senegal: an evaluation of culture-based methods and a real-time technique using tryptophan-like fluorescence
Start Year 2018
Description PhD studentship - SCENARIO 
Organisation University of Surrey
Department Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution PhD studentship for Jade Ward - Project title: Groundwater quality & microbial contamination in Africa - I am lead supervisor
Collaborator Contribution PhD studentship
Impact Ward et al., (2018) Bacterial Contamination in Drinking Water: Comparing Emerging and Established Methods. Oral Presentation at 45th International Association of Hydrogeologists Congress, 9-14 September 2018, Daejeon, South Korea. Sorensen et al., (2018) Real-time detection of faecally contaminated drinking water with tryptophan-like fluorescence: defining threshold values, Science of the Total Environment, 622-623, 1250-1257. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2017.11.162. Epub 2017 Dec 13 Ward et al., (2018) Assessing microbiological contamination in water sources: Field note on using the UviLux Tryptophan-Like Fluorescence (TLF) Probe. British Geological Survey Open Report, 14pp. (OR/18/042) http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/521705/ Mwathunga et al., (2017) UPGro Hidden Crisis Research Consortium. Survey 1 Country Report, Malawi. British Geological Survey Open Report, 19pp. (OR/17/046) http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/518402/ Ward et al., (2017) Rapid Screening for Pathogens In Drinking Water: Preliminary Results From A National Scale Survey In Malawi. Oral Presentation at 44th International Association of Hydrogeologists Congress, 25-29 September 2017, Dubrovnik, Croatia.
Start Year 2017
Description AGU Talk: Application of scenario-neutral methods to quantify impacts of climate change on water resources in East Africa 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact AGU fall presentation: GC41E-04: Application of scenario-neutral methods to quantify impacts of climate change on water resources in East Africa
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
Description Integrated water management in Uganda: talk by Callist Tindimugaya 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact >10 researchers attended a talk by Ugandan Water Commissioner, Dr Callist Tindimugaya on integrated water management in Uganda.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
Description Stakeholder workshops at HyCRISTAL AGMs in Kampala (2015) and Kisumu (2016) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Third sector organisations
Results and Impact Approx. 50 people have been reached through stakeholder engagement workshops under HyCRISTAL in 2015, the first one run in Kampala, and in Kisumu in 2016. These included representatives from government, regional authorities, NGOs and industry who have an active interest in future climate and water resources in the Lake Victoria Basin. We have been able to align activities under HyCRISTAL with national priorities for water resources in Uganda and Kenya through deliberate involvement of key partners (e.g. relevant ministries across the LV Basin) at an early stage during project development and scoping.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015,2016
URL https://hycristal.wordpress.com/