GWP CEE supports drought management in the Drin Basin and Armenia

GWP CEE capitalized on Integrated Drought Management Programme practices to enhance the outcomes of two transregional drought-related projects.

Two projects have been successfully finalized, capitalizing on GWP CEE’s experience in integrated drought management (IDM) and continuing good practices and partnerships with cross regional implementation. One of the fundamental blocks of GWPs mission for a Water Secure World is decreasing the drought impact and vulnerability. As such, the Integrated Drought Management Programme (IDMP) serves as an essential means of achieving that goal. Integrated Drought Management mitigates drought risk and builds drought resilience by addressing multiple components of drought management, including disaster risk reduction, climate adaptation strategies, and national water policies.

Drin Project 

IDMP for Drin Basin Project was a project funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration funds via GWPfrom January to August 2022. The objective of the project was to further advance IDM in Drin Basin countries - North Macedonia, Albania, Kosovo. The project capitalized on the solution developed by DriDanube project and other IDMP CEE activities since 2011. The project was funded by NoAA.

The partners involved in this project were GWP CEE (project manager), Slovenian Environment Agency: Drought Management Centre South Eastern Europe (DMCSEE), Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts (ZRC SAZU), and Global Change Research Institute of the Czech Academy of Sciences (CzechGlobe).

The project concept and start up activities were executed by GWPCEE and DMCSEE. A crucial step for achieving the objectives was to identify and connect with cooperation partners which have institutional mandate, position-related responsibilities, and personal interest to advance drought management in their country. Simultaneously, all partners were involved in expert identification of tools and solutions developed in previous projects that proved to be beneficial and easy to adopt in target countries.

One such solution was the DroughtWatch, a web platform for sharing and analyzing drought related datasets. Partners have compiled instructions on how to prepare datInstructions included information starting from data format all the way to file system structure.

National reporting network systems to monitor drought and drought impacts was a second suggested solution. The system is built upon expert reporters giving regular feedback on local soil moisture and drought impacts in agriculture, forestry, viticulture, and similar industries through a simple online questionnaire. Such monitoring has a great value, since the experts usually know about drought onset, but they don’t know the exact impact which people feel and cope with.Reporting by the reporters help to measure the impact, assess damages, and it can be linked to payment schemes. This, in turn, profits the rapporteurs. Implementation of this solution required the development of guidelines containing the necessary steps to kick start the cooperation in the country.

At the same time as the guidelines and protocols were being prepared, the project partners held a kick-off meeting to consult countries about their needs in terms of IDMIt was the first opportunity to introduce the country teams and the condition of IDM in respective countries.In the discussion session varioustopics were tackled, including status of drought monitoring in relation to data and indices and Drought Early Warning, part of drought monitoring and risk assessment, which they envisioned to be strengthened. Countries provided written statements about their short-term and long-term needs in terms of IDM after the meeting.

he targeted capacity building program was designed by GWP CEEFirstly, regional training was accompanied by a country-specific national consultation. Secondly, an innovative, client-oriented approach was selected to develop the training. DMCSEE, ZRC SAZU and Czech Globe were involved as lecturers in the training, and supervisors in pre- and post-meeting national consultationsThe whole conceptwas based on the countries’ needs and adopted a unique approach while focusing on the practical use of the tools and targeted discussions.

The resulting actions were summarized by the partners on the final creative workshop. The countries presented actions made regarding national and regional data preparation for integration to drought watch, and steps made to set-up the national monitoring networks. Keynote inputs were given,and the meeting has been visited by guests from IDMP Global (Valentin Aich, Katrin Ehlert), Global Water Partnership Mediterranean (DejanPanowski), who provided wider context for partners on global and regional perspectives on drought management.

Mirjana Ivanov, the head of the Department of Applied Meteorology and Climate Change, IHMSMontenegro, held a keynote on the use of Drought Watch in practice and follow up activities of the DriDanubeproject. Facilitated discussion on further perspectives took place, and partners suggested regional cooperation offers improvements, and defined activities which might be achievable within one to five years. The follow up activities will be held in the autumn of 2022.  


Integrated Drought Management in Armenia 

The second NOAA funded project took place in Armenia, in the framework of Activity 1 – Knowledge & Capacity building products, science, and dissemination. Studies have shown that droughts in the mountainous country of Armenia with sensitive arid climate conditions are observed in its lower regions almost every year.In the foothill regions, recurrence of droughts is about 50%. According to drought indices, the number of strong and very strong droughts during the period of 2000-2017 increased by 33 days relative to the baseline average (87) for 1961-1990.

Acknowledging the importance of drought and water scarcity in Armenia and responding to the challenges arisen, the Interdepartmental Committee was set up in 2021 by the order of the Armenian Prime Minister.

The goal of the IDMP project, initiated and implemented by Country Water Partnership Armenia (CWP Armenia) and GWP CEE, was to identify the existing legal, institutional and management gaps in drought control sector in the country, to clarify the directions of drought monitoring, early response, risk management and consequence elimination systems and to develop the content of the integrated drought management plan model jointly with the stakeholders. While the partners identified weaknesses and gaps of the system and suggested pathways for IDMP content, GWP CEE started with a preparation of a set of suggestions for possible outline of IDMP within the scope of Armenia as well as prepared a check list for the survey on current status of drought management.

At first, a desk study to identify stakeholders was conducted. Departments of state institution and non-governmental organisation responsible for the 3 pillars of drought management where identified. Bilingual survey questionnaire was developed by CWP Armenia, based on the checklist provided by GWPCEE. The questionnaires were sent to all interested stakeholders withfour chapters identified within: 1. Determining drought monitoring, 2. National legislation addressing drought, 3. National institutions and their responsibilities on drought, 4. Analysis of management measures/good practicesBased on the results, the definite list of key stakeholders was prepared.

Following the identification of relevant stakeholders, a working group was set up which included representatives of governmental institutions and departments, as well as independent experts in the field of drought. A study was conducted to identify the legal and institutional system regulating the field of drought management, the functions of the departments as well as the availability of information and data on drought management in Armenia. Five participatory stakeholder meetings were held with a resulting report on "Analysis of the Drought Management System in Armenia, Identification of Weaknesses and Gaps".

Stakeholder consultancyas a separate task, had different phases. During the stakeholder mapping, the stakeholders were consulted about the nomination of the working group membersA part of it was anidentification of institutional and legal capacity of main stakeholders’ institutions. Based on those, the CWP Armenia,the working group as well as invited independent experts prepared the documents for stakeholder consultancy. At the workshop held in Aghveran, Armeniatwo documents developed within the framework were discussed with the stakeholders. The documents were the already mentioned Analysis of the Drought Management System in Armenia, and the Content of the Drought Management Plan.

A special participant of the workshop, Deputy Minister of Environment, Mrs. Gayane Gabrielyan, expressed her willingness to assist in the implementationNational drought management strategy and program of measures will be necessary, and it can be the next step in case of possible financing. On behalf of Mrs. Gabrielyan and to present the results as well clarify the actions and further steps,a working meeting was organized in June 2022. The meeting was attended by the members of the Interdepartmental Committee as well as the UNDP DRR Program Coordinator.

As the drought management program document has been developedthe partners concluded that now it needs to achieve a legal status in order to be implemented effectively. Overall drought management strategy development, as well as follow up with provided recommendations are the next stepsidentified by CWP Armenia.