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UConn Leads Water and Food Security Initiatives in Ethiopia

 

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Among the Eversource Energy Center research areas is the critical topic of climate adaptation, and in this update we feature our Center Director, Manos Anagnostou, traveling in Africa to assist with life-sustaining water and food security initiatives.

 Eversource Energy Center Director Manos Anagnostou and a cohort of scientists have arrived (July 9, 2016) in Ethiopia to conduct research related to improving water and food security in the region. With 12 river basins and an estimated 122 billion cubic meters of water, Ethiopia’s water problems aren’t due to a lack of water, but a lack of expertise in water management preventing all but a small fraction of the available water supply from being used domestically.

 As a result, upwards of 50 million Ethiopians (94.1 million total population) do not have access to safe and reliable sources of drinking water, compounded by recurring drought and domestic issues. Rural areas see the greatest impact, with some family members walking four hours a day to access water from rivers and lakes sources that may be limited to shallow pools, contaminated with animal and human waste. As a result, water-borne illnesses including cholera and diarrhea are the leading causes of death for children under the age of five in the region.

 Funding for the project, released in September 2015, comes from the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Partnerships in International Research and Education (PIRE) program. The $4.3 million grant from NSF enables Anagnostou and the University of Connecticut researchers to collaborate with colleagues around the world to harness leading-edge expertise and solutions to assist local governments and communities in Ethiopia’s Blue Nile river basin to better manage their agricultural and water resources.

 The research team, led by Anagnostou, will use a portion of the funding to develop an integrated, regional forecasting system combining predicted seasonal rain forecasts with climate, watershed, and crop yield to enable local farmers and civic leaders to be better informed of environmental conditions so they can improve crop yields and minimize losses in times of drought. Ultimately, the goal is to develop a practical strategy for implementation by low-income communities vulnerable to climate variability to protect and manage these life-sustaining resources.

 

 For more information on the PIRE program, please visit:

http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2016/nsf16571/nsf16571.pdf

Published: July 11, 2016

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