The DROP project

Preparing North-West Europe for drought and water scarcity

The challenge

As a result of climate change, drought and water scarcity are increasing in North-West Europe. In the past, droughts have not been a priority for public authorities but early action is needed to adapt, reduce costs and prevent damage to agriculture, nature, and fresh water supplies. Studies are still needed to test the effectiveness of adaptation measures, and to enable the engagement of key stakeholders and users in planning and decision-making.

The project in brief

Six regional water authorities and five knowledge institutes from Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK took action through DROP. The DROP project (DROught adaPtation) was created to enhance the preparedness and resilience to water scarcity and drought in North-West Europe.

The knowledge partners of DROP expanded on an existing governance assessment tool and applied the tool in the six regions of the participating water authorities. The assessment then highlighted what aspects of the various regional governance settings supported or restricted drought and water scarcity measures. From there, the practice partners implemented and tested innovative concrete measures focusing on specific drought and water scarcity problems related to nature, agriculture and freshwater supply.

Additionally, the project focused on improving adaptation plans to drought and raising drought awareness. To do this, the project created a European governance toolkit, which defined regional drought adaptation, and improved the effectiveness of these measures for NWE.

Overall, their goal was to implement small-scale measures on the ground and promote the use of governance models in the process of designing long-term drought adaptation in order to enable NWE regions to become more resilient to drought.

"DROP helped to find solutions against drought problems such as preservation of water in the system and creating buffer zones"

Hilde Buitelaar, DROP project leader for Waterboard Groot Salland

The impact

One success of the project was developing and maintaining a strong transnational collaboration between the partners. Each pilot of the project was designed around the collaboration of at least two partners, and these “duos” enabled partners to gain new solutions and knowledge from their counterparts. As a result, the partners developed sustainable synergies that continued after the end of the project.

Additionally, a strong communication campaign, and the conclusions of the governance analysis allowed the stakeholders involved to become more aware of drought issues and enhance their preparedness measures for the future. The regional stakeholders involved in the project now have road maps with clear and precise recommendations to improve their governance of drought adaption in the future.

Another example is the project’s pilot concerned with the Somerset Levels in South West England. After the flooding in 2013-2014, the UK partners in DROP circulated reports to regional policymakers. It included measures that were tested in the project, such as woodland planting and improving soil structure, which were concluded with the help of DROP members and local farmers. The reports were then included in the ‘Somerset 20 Year Action Plan for water management,’ which was an important plan for the county.

This example illustrates the partnerships between DROP, local stakeholders, farmers, and policy makers, which resulted in increased drought awareness, and developed adaptation plans that improved the climate resilience of the area, enhancing preparedness overall.

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