Uganda - JRC's early flood warning system triggers pre-disaster humanitarian action

November 18, 2015

To prevent waterborne diseases (e.g. dysentery) brought on by floods, the Red Cross last week distributed preparedness items to households in flood-prone villages 300 km north-east of Uganda's capital, Kampala. This is the first time in the history of the International Red Cross that pre-disaster humanitarian action was taken based on a scientific forecast of flood risk. The forecast, which was based on the JRC's Global Flood Awareness System (GloFAS), proved to be correct as the area was subsequently flooded following heavy rainfall.

The humanitarian action was based on a forecast of rising water levels in the Teso area - especially in Amemia parish - where almost 5 000 preparedness items were distributed. The non-food items were procured under 'forecast-based financing' with the support of the German government through the German Red Cross (GRC).

Forecast-based financing (FBF) is a new concept in humanitarian aid whereby humanitarian funding is released based on forecast information for planned activities which reduce risks, enhance preparedness and response, and make disaster risk management more effective overall.

The Uganda Red Cross (URC) Secretary General, Robert Kwesiga, said: "By using forecasts in this innovative project, we are now intervening even earlier, before receiving reports of disasters. With such a timely disbursal, we hope to avoid potential catastrophe before it even happens, supporting people to continue working and going to school."

The GloFAS forecast used in Uganda was verified by the Uganda National Meteorological Authority (UNMA) and the country's Hydrological Department. According to weather experts at the UNMA, Uganda has experienced the heaviest rainfall in 50 years since the beginning of November.

The Red Cross/Red Crescent Climate Centre's Senior Climate Specialist, Erin Coughlan, added that the evidence from Uganda will inform development of FBF pilot projects in 15 countries around the world that are coordinated by the GRC in cooperation with national societies and the UN World Food Programme and that aim to replicate the approach.

GloFAS is developed by the JRC in cooperation with the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF). It produces real-time flood forecasts for the entire globe, coupling state-of-the-art weather forecasts with a hydrological model. GloFAS already demonstrated its potential during the floods in Myanmar in September 2015, as well as those in Somalia and Iraq in October 2015, for which it provided early flood information to the Emergency Response Coordination Centre (ERCC) of the European Commission. It is planned that GloFAS will become operational under the Copernicus Emergency Management Service by 2017.
Related links

'Humanitarian history' made as Uganda Red Cross launches forecast-based financing for real:

Global Flood Awareness System (GloFAS):

European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF):

Emergency Response Coordination Centre (ERCC) of the European Commission:


European Commission Joint Research Centre

Related Flood Articles from Brightsurf:

Uncertainties key to balancing flood risk and cost in elevating houses
What do you have on your 2020 Bingo Card? Wildfire, heat wave, global pandemic, or flooding?

COVID-19 pandemic has created flood of potentially substandard research
The COVID-19 pandemic has created a flood of potentially substandard research amid the rush to publish, with a string of papers retracted or under a cloud and a surge in submissions to pre-print servers where fewer quality checks are made, a leading ethicist has warned in the Journal of Medical Ethics.

Flood risks: More accurate data due to COVID-19
Emerging use of Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) makes it possible to continuously measure shallow changes in elevation of Earth surface.

Amid fire and flood, Americans are looking for action
A new survey reveals how Americans feel about adaptation and prevention policies to combat wildfires and floods in the face of climate change.

Demographics data helps predict NY flood insurance claims
In flood-prone areas of the Hudson River valley in New York state, census areas with more white and affluent home owners tend to file a higher percentage of flood insurance claims than lower-income, minority residents, according to a new study.

Flood data from 500 years: Rivers and climate change in Europe
Studying historical documents from 5 centuries, scientists were able to compare flood events from the past with recent flood events in Europe.

A sharper view of flood risk
Extreme weather patterns and regions at risk of flooding could be easier to spot using a new statistical model for large spatial datasets.

New insights into US flood vulnerability revealed from flood insurance big data
An international team of scientists, led by the University of Bristol, has found that current estimates of flood risk rely upon methods for calculating flood damage which are inadequately verified and match poorly with observations.

Research shows mangrove conservation can pay for itself in flood protection
The natural coastal defenses provided by mangrove forests reduce annual flooding significantly in critical hotspots around the world.

More rain and less snow means increased flood risk
By analyzing more than two decades of data in the western US, scientists have shown that flood sizes increase exponentially as a higher fraction of precipitation falls as rain, offering insight into how flood risks may change in a warming world with less snow.

Read More: Flood News and Flood Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to