dr.ir. PR (Pieter) van Oel

dr.ir. PR (Pieter) van Oel

Associate professor Sociohydrology

Since I was a child I am playing with water. Today, the entire world is my playground. My moves affect water systems, both close to my home and in faraway places. All over the world humanity is involved in serious water games with rising stakes. Worldwide, water crises such as drought have put lives and livelihoods under serious threat. As such, drought is not just a water problem, it is a societal problem. People are increasingly suffering from drought, but we often also aggravate drought ourselves. Fortunately, solutions to drought problems are largely in our own hands as well.

The challenge we face is that traditional strategies are no longer sufficient. Building dams can even make things worse in the long run. So, besides water management, we must also change other things to increase drought preparedness. This may concern activities related to agriculture, industry, and domestic water use, but also virtual water transfer trough international trade in consumer goods.

Most importantly, we can learn from past droughts by conducting integrated assessments of drought-affected areas. We urgently need to systematically diagnose drought for better dealing with drought.

For each region and every drought event the context of local circumstances and individual situations matter. This is why we need contextualized information to inform tailor-made emergency plans as well as long-term strategies for increased drought preparedness.

Through our drought diagnosis approach we provide a 3D toolbox in which knowledge on water-related human Dimensions, and sociohydrological Dynamics feeds into a constructive Dialogue among experts with different perspectives.

Scientists, engineers, professionals and other societal actors need to join forces for us to effectively start dealing with drought!