Water scientists in the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences have launched an interdisciplinary project called CreativeDrought to prepare rural communities in Africa for possible future drought by combining local knowledge with environmental science.

Virtual experience

Involving leading researchers from universities in Africa and the UK, the team put together by drought expert Dr Anne Van Loon works directly with people in rural northern South Africa - particularly small-scale and subsistence farmers, young and old, female and male. The team is  combining local stories about past drought events with modelling of future drought to create a virtual experience of coping with future lack of water in the region.

Supported by a grant by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), and Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), the pilot project focuses on the Folovhodwe region in the Limpopo province in South Africa, which suffered the consequences of a severe drought last year. 

Drought resilience

Dr Anne Van Loon said: “We want to work with people in rural Africa to combine the strengths of local knowledge with scientific methods. We believe we can help increase drought resilience by engaging local communities and authorities in creative experiments based on past drought stories and future drought model scenarios.”