Drought -- National Drought Mitigation Center


Date of this Version



Bayissa, Y.; Moges, S.; Melesse, A.; Tadesse, T.; Abiy, A.Z.; Worqlul, A. Multi-Dimensional Drought Assessment in Abbay/Upper Blue Nile Basin: The Importance of Shared Management and Regional Coordination Efforts for Mitigation. Remote Sens. 2021, 13, 1835. https:// doi.org/10.3390/rs13091835




Drought is one of the least understood and complex natural hazards often characterized by a significant decrease in water availability for a prolonged period. It can be manifested in one or more forms as meteorological, agricultural, hydrological, and/or socio-economic drought. The overarching objective of this study is to demonstrate and characterize the different forms of droughts and to assess the multidimensional nature of drought in the Abbay/ Upper Blue Nile River (UBN) basin and its national and regional scale implications. In this study, multiple drought indices derived from in situ and earth observation-based hydro-climatic variables were used. The meteorological drought was characterized using the Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI) computed from the earth observation based gridded CHIRPS (Climate Hazards Group InfraRed Precipitation with Station) rainfall data. Agricultural and hydrological droughts were characterized by using the Soil Moisture Deficit Index (SMDI) and Standardized Runoff-discharge Index (SRI), respectively. The monthly time series of SMDI was derived from model-based gridded soil moisture and SRI from observed streamflow data from 1982 to 2019. The preliminary result illustrates the good performance of the drought indices in capturing the historic severe drought events (e.g., 1984 and 2002) and the spatial extents across the basin. The results further indicated that all forms of droughts (i.e., meteorological, agricultural, and hydrological) occurred concurrently in Abbay/Upper Blue Nile basin with a Pearson correlation coefficient ranges from 0.5 to 0.85 both Kiremt and annual aggregate periods. The concurrent nature of drought is leading to a multi-dimensional socio-economic crisis as indicated by rainfall, and soil moisture deficits, and drying of small streams. Multi-dimensional drought mitigation necessitates regional cooperation and watershed management to protect both the common water sources of the Abbay/Upper Blue Nile basin and the socio-economic activities of the society in the basin. This study also underlines the need for multi-scale drought monitoring and management practices in the basin.