3DDD: Diagnosing drought for dealing with drought in 3D 

Toolbox for increasing drought preparedness of actors in water and climate governance, starting from northeastern Brazil

Project start: 1 June 2019

Project end: 31 May 2023

Project description: To manage drought better, human influences on drought must be better understood. Current frameworks for drought monitoring and water accounting focus on the natural boundary conditions and therefore offer little help in distilling human influences on drought. This project combines insights from socio-hydrology and water management to produce an entirely new approach, incorporating the study of water-related human dimensions (D1), socio-hydrological dynamics (D2), and the structuring of dialogues (D3) among actors. The project will develop and test the integrated, participatory 3D Drought Diagnosis (3DDD) toolbox.

We will investigate nested scale levels, related to local water resources and virtual-water transfers together with actor networks of users, managers, traders, and policymakers. Test case is the drought-affected northeast of Brazil. Finally, the 3D Drought Diagnosis toolbox can be used to enable existing drought monitors to provide contextualized information in drought-affected regions worldwide. We will demonstrate how proposed drought management solutions perform with regard to cross-scale synergies and trade-offs in relation to the UN Sustainable Development Goals 2, 6, 10, and 13.

This project is a joint effort of Brazilian and Dutch organizations including: Wageningen University (WUR; The Netherlands); the Research Institute of Meteorology and Water Resources (FUNCEME; Brazil); the Federal University of Ceará (UFC; Brazil) and the Brazilian Research Agricultural Corporation, National Research Tropical Agroindustry Center (EMBRAPA; Brazil).

PhD project D1

Contextualized drought indicators to inform water governance and interventions: the case study of Ceará, Brazil

While recent studies have been showing that drought-related impacts are driven by demographic or socioeconomic factors, most of the depicting indicators are merely based on the water-cycle dynamics. The drought mitigation bodies of the northeastern semi-arid region of Brazil, affected by a pluri-annual drought since 2011, have been following this same pattern. Through this PhD, it is sought to develop and test indicators depicting the extent that the water uses in the area are contributing to socioeconomic and environmental drought impacts. Such local and contextualized indicators aim to link water accounting data to tangible decision-making for water and drought managers.

PhD project D2

Socio-hydrological simulation as a tool to analyze drought impacts due to human action

Droughts are one of the natural disasters that produce the most intense socio-economic impacts. Since it is impossible to avoid the onset of a meteorological drought, the development of actions to improve drought-preparedness and resilience of the affected population is the key to reduce societal impacts. To deepen understanding on what is behind hydrological drought evolution demands a multidisciplinary approach and this research is formulated in this context. This PhD aims to analyse the role of the dynamics of human interactions in the intensification and propagation of a drought and its impacts through socio-hydrological model simulations.

PhD project D3

Dialogue among actors with different perspectives concerning drought

Human influences on drought must be better understood to manage drought better. Current frameworks for drought monitoring and water accounting focus on the natural boundary conditions and therefore offer little help in distilling human influences on drought. This PhD will map out actor perspectives on drought preparedness and response through framing analysis. Therefore, will build bridges between different actors’ perspectives about drought to develop context-specific and actionable knowledge to address drought in the northeast region of Brazil.


david.walker (at) wur.nl

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