DriDanube - From reactive to proactive drought management

10-08-2021

Drought is becoming one of the major challenges of the Danube region. In recent years such as 2003, 2007, 2012, 2015 and 2017, significant parts of the Danube River Basin were affected by it, negatively impacting various water-dependent economic sectors, vegetation as well as the aquatic environment. In the DriDanube project, farmers together with forestry experts and other key stakeholders are already working on solutions.

July 8, 2021


Image: DriDanube 
 
Climate change increases the odds of worsening drought in many parts of the Danube region. With more years with above-average temperatures, increased evapotranspiration and an unfavourable distribution of rainfall also across Danube countries, drought is becoming more frequent, more intense and no longer only associated with the summer months. Despite extensive damages in the last decades, drought continues to be managed as a crisis situation where the focus is to address its impacts with emergency procedures, rather than prevent it. Is there a more sustainable solution? 

 

„Drought management starts already at the stage when there are no signs of drought at all and we may think sufficient water conditions are going to last. However, they will come to an end eventually so it is already during that time when we need to raise awareness that water is not a granted good.“ 

Andreja Moderc, Lead Partner of DriDanube, Slovenian Environment Agency 

 

Better prepared for the next drought 

Aiming at resilience and better preparedness when a drought strikes, 16 partners gathered in the DriDanube project devised the Danube Drought Strategy, helping key actors in the region to switch from reactive to proactive drought management approach. From prevention and early response to measures to mitigate drought impacts and evaluation process afterwards, the strategy describes the optimal drought management model, determining who is doing what and when, ultimately to prevent getting into further stages of worsening drought.

Next, in order to improve the preparedness for drought, the project focused on the assessment and mapping of drought risk, identifying the areas prone to rainfall deficit and the areas where significant drought hazard and/or considerable crop losses are expected. By following the conceptual framework set in the European Commission’s Risk Assessment and Mapping Guidelines for Disaster Management, efforts were made to make the assessment comparable in all 10 countries as to help to facilitate cooperation vis-a-vis drought risks in the border areas.

Drought Watch 

In addition, the project developed the Drought Watch: an open interactive web application which enables more accurate and efficient drought monitoring and early warning for the entire Danube region. The tool does that first by processing Earth Observation data from remote sensing satellites and second, by integrating data from the network of on-field reporters. Spanning across 10 countries, the network consists of more than 1000 farmers and forestry experts who report their observations on the state of soil, vegetation or even loss of yield on their specific location weekly throughout the year. In summer 2019, for example, the tool detected the early signs of drought in the Danube region along the Adriatic coast and in some areas in Serbia and Romania, helping to alert national authorities, drought experts, as well as farmers and water managers, who could take appropriate measures on time. 


 

Programme co-funded by European Union funds (ERDF, IPA, ENI)