Droughts and water shortage can impact on the environment, agriculture, infrastructure, society and culture, affecting us all. The DRY project was founded in April 2014, with an aim to develop an easy-to-use, evidence-based resource to inform decision-making for drought risk management in the UK over a four year period.

Our project spans seven catchment areas in England, Wales and Scotland to reflect different hydrological, socio-economic and cultural contexts in the UK.

We take a unique approach because it draws together information from multiple perspectives on drought science, stakeholder engagement, citizen science and narrative storytelling to better understand drought risks, while other studies have focused on mathematical modelling of drought risk.

A key part of this is using different types of data together to build a better picture of drought risk in the UK. In our project, ‘data’ can mean statistics derived from a hydrological model to stories and images collected from a river catchment area and we think each of these is equally valuable in helping us understand how we can better cope with drought.

science narrative diagram

To achieve this the project incorporates a two-way process for gathering and sharing knowledge about drought. We will be holding workshops with communities near seven UK rivers where we gather narratives which capture local knowledge. Narratives will be stimulated from discussions around images, memories of historical drought events and the outcomes of the hydrological drought models being developed in the team. The narratives will provide context to feed into our drought models which predict future drought scenarios.

The project is also carrying out a number of different citizen science projects which will engage local people and generate learning opportunities surrounding drought impacts on plants, crops, trees and domestic water use. During this process we will collect stories about volunteers’ experiences and their own knowledge about drought.

At each stage of the process we will share our findings with local groups and incorporate feedback into the research design.

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