Improved Drought Early Warning and Forecasting to strengthen preparedness and adaptation to droughts in Africa

Place: morocco, Africa
Sustainable management of natural resources Sustainable management of natural resources
Total Budget: € 3.490.000,00 | Period: From January 2011 To December 2013


The aim of the DEWFORA project was to develop a framework to provide an early warning and response to mitigate the impact of droughts in Africa. Four Comparative case studies (Limpopo, Niger, Nil and Oum er Rbia) were used to implement, assess and refine the  methodologies developed within the project. In Morocco, the lack of effectiveness of public policy towards drought management is in part a consequence of the poor understanding of drought vulnerability at the rural community level, which prevents the development of efficient mitigation actions and adaptation strategies, tailored to the needs and specificities of each rural community. Therefore, this initiative aimed to assess and map drought vulnerability in the heterogeneous basin of Oum Er-Rbia showing variability of climates, landscapes, cropping systems and social habits. The produced maps can allow detecting differences in vulnerability in  different rural communes providing a tool for effective drought management practices


Hassan II Institute of Agronomy and Veterinary Medicine - Morocco

Lead applicant

European Centre For Medium-Range Weather Forecasts - United Kingdom

Initiative partner

ECMWF's core mission is to: produce numerical weather forecasts and monitor the Earth-system; carry out scientific and technical research to improve forecast skill; maintain an archive of meteorological data. To deliver this core mission, the Centre provides: twice-daily global numerical weather forecasts; air quality analysis; atmospheric composition monitoring; climate monitoring; ocean circulation analysis; hydrological prediction. We also provide advanced training to scientific staff in our Member and Co-operating States and assist the World Meteorological Organization with its programmes. We make 25% of the supercomputing facilities available to Member States.

Joint research centre- European Commission - Belgium

Initiative partner

The Joint Research Centre (JRC) is the European Commission's in-house science service which employs scientists to carry out research in order to provide independent scientific advice and support to EU policy. As the Commission's in-house science service, the Joint Research Centre's mission is to provide EU policies with independent, evidence-based scientific and technical support throughout the whole policy cycle. Working in close cooperation with policy Directorates-General, the JRC addresses key societal challenges while stimulating innovation through developing new methods, tools and standards, and sharing its know-how with the Member States, the scientific community and international partners.

Deltares, Enabling delta life - Netherlands

Initiative partner

Deltares is an independent, institute for applied research in the field of water, subsurface and infrastructure. Throughout the world, we work on smart solutions, innovations and applications for people, environment and society. Our main focus is on deltas, coastal regions and river basins. Managing these densely populated and vulnerable areas is complex, which is why we work closely with governments, businesses, other research institutes and universities at home and abroad. Our motto is Enabling Delta Life. As an applied research institute, the success of Deltares can be measured in the extent to which our expert knowledge can be used in and for society. For Deltares the quality of our expertise and advice is foremost. Knowledge is our core business. All contracts and projects, whether financed privately or from strategic research budgets, contribute to the consolidation of our knowledge base. Furthermore, we believe in openness and transparency, as is evident from the free availability of our software and models. Open source works, is our firm conviction. Deltares employs over 800 people and is based in Delft and Utrecht.

Technical University of Madrid - Spain

Initiative partner

The Technical University of Madrid is the largest Spanish technological university as well as a renowned European institution. With two recognitions as Campus of International Excellence, it is outstanding in its research activity together with its training of highly-qualified professionals, competitive at an international level.

The different component of the Drought vulnerability index and the subsequent drought vulnerability maps will allow increasing the resilience of rural communities through the choice of the most adapted drought management strategies and practices.

The Drought vulnerability index integrates four different components: (i) the renewable natural capacity, (ii) the economic capacity, (iii) human and civic resources, and (iv) infrastructure and technology

Morocco has diverse climatic conditions with low and highly variable annual rainfall and high degree of aridity. The prevailing climatic conditions are characterized by extended periods of dry spells and wet periods with a regime of irregular precipitation. Inter-annual rainfall variability is also high. As a result, the country is extremely vulnerable to drought which represents a structural recurrent phenomenon. 50% of the population lives in rural areas. They are mostly small subsistent farmers whose production remains almost entirely on rainfall, therefore very sensitive to drought episodes that may dramatically affect their incomes. In addition, drought management remains in practice mainly reactive and often ineffective ,certainly a consequence of poor understanding of drought vulnerability at rural community level prevents the development of efficient mitigation actions and adaptation strategies, tailored to the needs and specificities of each rural community


Overall, the main output of this initiative is to show how a Drought vulnerability index  can allow detecting the differences in vulnerability in the different rural communes providing, therefore, a tool for better and more effective and adapted drought management practices. In the Oum Er Rbia basin, the analysis of the 4 dimensions of the DVI showed that  the mean annual rainfall, the percentage of irrigated lands, The Cereal / Fruit trees and market crops ratio, the land status, the farm’s sizes, the adult literacy rate and the access to improved drinking water represent the major drivers of vulnerability. They may therefore be targeted in priority by mitigation and adaptation actions. This initiative may also be transferred to oher moroccan basins.  

The main aim was to provide an efficient tool for more targeted and adapted drought mitigation practices to target different groups of beneficiaries which are are among the follows:
• Scientific Community: Policy-makers/RTD managers
• Industry/enterprises: Civil society/consumers (rural populations)

The human resources involved in this project belong to different research institutions and universities. Professors, researchers, experts in agronomy, weather forecasting, irrigation, economy, sociology cooped together to realize the different tasks of the initiative.

The main obstacles and difficulties can be resumed as follows: 

- Data availability

- Institutional cooperation

The initiative will contribute to the understanding of the underlying factors of drought vulnerability in rural populations and contribute to provide decision makers and water resources managers with a decision tool allowing developing efficient mitigation actions, tailored to the needs and specificities of each rural community.
Overall, DEWFORA project will provide guidance on how and where drought preparedness and adaptation should be targeted to contribute to increased resilience and improved effectiveness of drought mitigation measures 

Several attempts have been made to create a quantitative index of vulnerability to provide scores that describe the relative vulnerability of countries, regions or communities. Yohe and Tol (2002) proposed a method for developing indicators for social and economic coping capacity in the context of climate change. Ionescu et al. (2007) used a simple index to quantify adaptive capacity including GDP, literacy rate, and labour participation rate of women. O’Brien et al. (2004) have build maps of agricultural vulnerability to climate change and globalization in India by creating indices comprised of biophysical, socioeconomic and technological factors affecting agricultural production. Iglesias et al. (2007a) developed an Adaptive Capacity index with 3 major components that characterize economic capacity, human and civic resources, and agricultural innovation. A similar approach has been taken in the context of drought (Moneo, 2007) to develop a drought vulnerability index. 

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../file-system/small/pdf ../file-system/small/pdf Scientific publication Indicators for Social and Economic Coping Capacity—Moving Towards a Working Definition of Adaptive Capacity

- Short courses on drought forecasting and warning
- E-learning course on “Drought Forecasting And Warning: Principles And Applications”
- Scientific papers
- Dewfora special issue in HESS

Dewfora short movie Dewfora short movie