Research Terms of Reference: Drought Risk Mitigation Assessment Kherson, UKR2106b, Ukraine - September, 2021 (V1)

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2. Rationale

2.1 Rationale

Agricultural drought was highlighted as a severe hazard based on early findings from the EU's Instrument for Stability and Peace for Resilience building in the Sea of Azov area. Drought severity was determined as high across the Sea of Azov area (ASA), including Kherson oblast impacting livelihoods, and land degradation in a large agricultural producing region of Ukraine. According to a study by the World Resources Institute (WRI) in 2021, Ukraine and Moldova have the highest risk of drought in the world, following by Bangladesh, India, and Serbia.

Geographically the steppe zone, which includes Kherson oblast, is characterized by predominantly arid conditions, and suffers the greatest impacts from droughts. Over the last 20 years, Ukraine has experienced several major droughts, including in 2003, 2007, 2012, 2017 and 2020. In some years, the negative impact of drought is also exacerbated by a dry autumn and abnormally warm low snowfall winter in the previous year, such as in 2007. The ongoing agricultural drought – impacting the Kherson oblast – has the potential to exacerbate existing tensions related to water supply, erode local populations’ socio-economic coping capacity, and provoke increased wildfires (+7% in 2020).

Additionally, the climatic trends identified by Supporting greater socio-economic resilience in the Azov Sea project, conducted by IMPACT initiatives in 2021, clearly indicate rising temperatures and falling precipitation across the region, which could result in increasing frequency of droughts in the future2 . There is a clear trend between annual precipitation and drought seasons, with abnormally low precipitation observed in years of identified drought.

Considering current drought risk and future scenarios of increasing the frequency and severity of drought in southern part of Ukraine, immediate drought mitigation strategies are needed.

This Drought Risk Mitigation Assessment in Kherson will enable IMPACT to understand current mitigation efforts, mitigation best practices, as well as challenges and barriers in implementation of best practices in order to inform local authorities and implementing partners’ strategy for mitigation efforts and investment. To achieve that, IMPACT will conduct the survey within both enterprises (micro, small and medium farms only) and a sample of households that grow their own crops in rural areas.