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


Department for International Development and Natural Environment Research Council, NERC

Project Team

Prof Ros Cornforth, Mr Dai Clegg, David MacDonald, Dan Lapworth, Andrew Clenaghan, Ann Kingiri, Celia Petty, Robert Wilby, Marie-Estelle Demory, Irene Polo, Andrew Ainslie, Emily Black, Jonathan Evans, Kamazima Lwiza, Fredrick Semazzi, Elizabeth Kendon, Ben Booth, David Rowell, Samuel Senkunda, Felix Mutua, Richard Anyah, Geoffrey Sabiiti, Jackson Efitre, Rebecca Slack, Barbara Evans, John Marsham


Evidence for Development




Uganda; Kenya; Tanzania

Key Contact

Prof Ros Cornforth


Water, social wellbeing, climate, resilience, climate change




HyCRISTAL (Integrating Hydro-Climate Science into Policy Decisions for Climate-Resilient Infrastructure and Livelihoods in East Africa) is one of five projects within the Future Climate for Africa (FCFA) programme, funded by the Department for International Development and Natural Environment Research Council in the UK.

Availability of water is fundamental for development in the East African region. However, this vital resource is already under stress from land degradation, pollution and overfishing. Climate change adds to these problems, greatly increasing the vulnerability of the poorest people in the region. We are working in two different settings: rural communities that rely on agriculture and fishing; and urban populations where water supply and sanitation are under pressure.

Climate projections show a warming trend in the region in the decades ahead, but changes in rainfall and weather extremes are currently uncertain. HyCRISTAL is tackling current uncertainties which exist around climate change projections for the region, concentrating in particular on what they mean for the availability and management of water.

HyCRISTAL is developing new understanding of climate change and its impacts in the region, working with decision-makers to manage water for a more climate-resilient future.

Our research

Connecting policymakers with rural communities to support long-term decision-making

HyCRISTAL is developing pathways for new climate research to support the resilience of rural communities vulnerable to climate change, with an emphasis on the sectors of agriculture and fishing, and in the context of other drivers of change such as shifts in land-use and population growth. Researchers employ methods such as the Household Economic Approach (HEA), the Individual Household Method (IHM), and ethnographic methods to understand current livelihood patterns and factors limiting peoples’ ability to adapt their sources of livelihood. Other activities include market systems and value-chain analysis; working with hydrologists, geologists and crop scientists to understand community-level adaptation potential; and working with Kenyan and Ugandan social scientists to interpret community adaptation capabilities and policy implications.

Meanwhile, Knowledge Exchanges and Learning Alliances will be piloted to open channels for evidence-based decision-making in the context of rural livelihoods adaptations. These pilot fora will be hosted in two different locations and will serve as sharing platforms for the users of HyCRISTAL research.  The pilot locations, Mukono in Uganda and Homa Bay in Kenya, capture two different Lake Victoria Basin national governance and policy regimes. The HyCRISTAL Learning Alliances will also support project partners in the development of an Integrated Database for African Policymakers (IDAPS). IDAPS is a platform that is being developed to provide users with a rich and integrated data resource that will span climate, crops, fisheries, hydrology, and livelihoods. Interpreting and analysing this data will assist policymakers to understand and respond to the effects of climate and other significant changes in the Lake Victoria Basin. An IDAPS user forum was recently hosted by the Uganda National Council for Science and Technology (UNCST). Key attendees included four Members of Parliament, including Hon Cecilia Atim Ogwal (Deputy Speaker) and the leader of the Parliamentary Forum on Climate Change; the Assistant Commissioner, Ugandan Ministry for Water and Environment (MWE); Deputy Executive Secretary of UNCST; a senior representative from Uganda's National Emergency Coordination and Operations Centre; representatives of civil society climate change advocacy groups; and, senior district level technical officers.

Furthermore, HyCRISTAL hydrologists are also working with MWE to support integrated water resource management within the Victoria Water Management Zone (WMZ). MWE are currently undertaking a consultation process with stakeholders to assess and understand water needs and stresses in this WMZ. HyCRISTAL hydrological modelling of current and possible future water resources will inform this process.


Our impact

Check out two new Climate Risk Narrative (CRN) infographics produced with climate scientists from the UK Met Office. These CRNs offer a rural and urban narrative and help to facilitate discussions around the future impacts of climate change:

 - Possible futures for rural East Africa under a changing climate

 - Possible futures for rural East Africa under a changing climate: Examples of Climate Change Impacts 

HyCRISTAL is using cutting-edge research in Uganda and has initiated two pilot projects that address issues around water resource management, urban sanitation and rural livelihoods. 

Download a PDF of the HyCRISTAL Policy Brief.

In May of 2019, the annual HyCRISTAL AGM took place in Kampala, Uganda, take a look at the activities here along with a Keynote Speech from Hon James Acidri.