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Sociohydrological analysis of drought resilience in Sahelian Sudan farming systems

The arid and semi-arid areas of Sudan (ca. 1.2 million km2) are essential for food production. Variability of rainfall and Nile river flow in the wake of climate change and increasing food demand jeopardizes food security. Drought poses a main risk of crop failure. Understanding the relationships of natural and societal interactions in this sociohydrological system is essential to improve drought resilience and reduce stress on the natural and social systems. A clear understanding of the drought risk to crops, the societal ability to cope and the options to improve drought resilience is therefore imperative. Based upon previous research in this region, we will develop a novel approach to identify and quantify the sociohydrological resilience to drought by combining available ground- and satellite-based data and products with structured farm surveys. Participatory approaches using information and communication technology (ICT) will support the research in training and educating the participating stakeholders. The surveys will yield data on how households perceive, cope with and adapt to the biophysical drought risk, what constraints they face in responding to it, what interventions they expect from extension services or policymakers, and which socioeconomic household factors drive these perceptions and coping/adaptation strategies. Using the example of two main staple crops (sorghum and millet), a new sociohydrological drought index will be developed and tested to map the level of drought resilience. These maps, combined with the respective information on potentials to improve resilience and factors impeding adaptation, will provide insight into cause-effect relationships regarding drought vulnerability, and will help guide adaptation strategies.