DRiSL: The Drought Risk finance Science Laboratory

Lead Research Organisation: University of Sussex
Department Name: Sch of Global Studies

Abstract

Whether on television, newspapers, the internet or first-hand we have all seen the damage that floods, droughts and other weather hazards can have on people's lives and their livelihoods. It is a sad fact that such hazard events disproportionately impact developing countries and poor people. However it is also increasingly evident that acting before a disaster occurs can save lives. For example, frontline humanitarian organisations and government agencies can themselves prepare by getting supplies and staff in readiness. More importantly, agencies can directly help the population prepare so that the impacts of a hazard are actually much reduced. Such actions depend on the lead time of a forecast but can range for example from distributing money, drought-resistant seeds, animal fodder to communities to ensuring evacuation procedures are followed. Acting before an event means they can also do this at a lower cost than the traditional 'late' post disaster humanitarian response. As a result there is growing momentum within the humanitarian system to move beyond the current 'begging bowl' funding model of post-disaster appeals, towards obtaining and distributing humanitarian funds before a disaster occurs. This change can enable humanitarians to mobilise more collaboratively, more predictably, and importantly in anticipation of crises. For this to occur requires trustworthy forecasts of hazards like storms, floods and droughts, and credible information on the condition of the people and systems exposed to them.

Forecast based financing and Disaster Risk financing initiatives, utilise information to anticipate potential disasters and set pre-agreed triggers for the release of disaster prevention finance. The advantage of this approach is that it is data-driven and objective. It thereby circumvents long debates around potentially conflicting early warning signs which tend to paralyse humanitarian action. It puts in place a robust predictable process to release funding or initiate action before a disaster occurs. Humanitarian agencies working on developing these systems face a problem, however. They are not scientists nor social scientists; but they need to use information from both realms of research to trigger the systems and have confidence in this information.

They also must be accountable to the people that the system looks to support and the donors that finance it. The START Network Drought financing facility (DFF) and the Weithungerhilfe (WHH) Madagascar Forecast based financing project are both at this juncture of selection and development of scientific data to apply to these initiatives. The DFF having begun the design with a Global Parametric model and have a prototype model that requires testing and evaluation, whereas the WHH Madagascar Forecast based financing project is starting out from the beginning. However, currently no process, independent honest broker, or method to provide an independent review of the scientific (science and social science) credibility of these systems exists in an operational context. This is a stumbling point in the adoption of these ground breaking initiatives by other organisations.

This project looks to meet the needs of humanitarian agencies. In particular it will provide "scientific due diligence" to the forecast and action components of these proactive schemes and hence ensure that the information going into them is as trustworthy as possible. It will assess a suit of global drought models in regard to their uncertainty and ability to depict emerging food security crisis. Global data products will be explored alongside data on the ground of drought and food security events in the three test sites associated of Pakistan, Zimbabwe and Madagascar. It will help the humanitarian practitioners understand the limitations of the science for decision making and the fundamental risk of acting proactively when acting with forecast and monitoring information.

Planned Impact

DRiSL is a demand-led project addressing the pivotal needs of humanitarian agencies involved in drought risk financing initiatives. We focus our research on the START network Drought Finance Facility and the Weithungerhilfe (WHH) led equivalent for Madagascar providing a clear and direct pathway to impact for the project. We expect DRiSL will have a direct and measurable impact on these initiatives and hence the people at risk they mean to serve, resulting in modifications to disaster risk financing facility design.

The project will undertake a 'scientific due diligence' approach to evaluating the scientific and social scientific basis of disaster risk financing. Given the inevitable possibility with risk based assessments that a potential crises is missed or a false alarm raised, a process of 'scientific due diligence' ensures that the risks of disaster resilience finance distribution are assessed in as an accountable, transparent and defensible manner as possible. The achievement of these attributes provides a sound basis to establishing the legitimacy and credibility of using financial instruments for building resilience to disasters. Ultimately therefore the research facilitates the up and out-scaling of risk financing initiatives.

Impact is ensuring through the participation of humanitarian practitioners as project partners, namely through the START network. The START network comprises 42 national and international aid agencies, has 7000 partners, in 200 countries and territories worldwide, from five continents. To illustrate the START network's reach and impact, by August 2016 the associated START Fund had been activated on 76 occasions, and had reached 4.2 million people across 45 countries. Whilst one of the network's other programmes, START Engage manages an extensive disasters and emergencies preparedness programme (DEPP), with 14 separate projects involving 44 organisations in 10 countries.

We will utilise a Participatory Impact Pathways Analysis (PIPA) framework and method to plan, monitor and evaluate the impact of our project. This will be rooted in, and flow from a coherent 'Theory of Change' established early in the project. Impact will also be ensured by the involvement of project partners associated with on-going DfID-NERC programmes of Future Climate for Africa and SHEAR.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description Many organisations would like to help society cope with drought by setting up humanitarian systems that provide funding for preparedness actions in advance of the onset of drought and associated impacts. The Start network Drought Finance Facility (DFF) is one such example. The DFF involved triggering for the release of resources based on some indicator of drought (a biophysical indicator from climate observations, model outputs like soil moisture or satellite-derived vegetation condition) over the drought-prone and vulnerable regions. However, the choice of drought indicator and the trigger (the drought risk 'model') is not obvious. In the DRiSL project we assessed a wide range of drought 'models' to see how sensitive the triggering is to the choice of drought indicator, using long records of drought indicator data. We find considerable sensitivity in when the DFF would trigger funding fro drought to the choice of data. Further, by comparison of the triggered events with indicators of the impact of drought we find that there is often a relatively weak relationship between the biophysical and socio-economic indicators of drought. For these reasons drought management systems like DFF must be very carefully designed to ensure robust performance
The design of the Start network drought finance facility has changed as a result
Exploitation Route We have writtenn 'due diligence' guide to the design of drought Finance systems to help organisations
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Communities and Social Services/Policy,Environment,Other

 
Description The DRiSL project is a 'demand-driven project', primarily to provide evidence to support Humanitarian organisations in developing drought risk models as part of their Drought Risk Financing systems, specifically the Start Network's Drought Finance Facility (DFF). Start is a network of major international NGOs. DRiSL has influenced the development of the DFFs in a number of ways and has led to refined and robust drought risk model design. First, our initial results highlighted problems with the candidate drought model from an existing consultant. On that basis Start has decided to develop alternative designs and has accordingly issued an open tender for the Pakistan DFF. The ToR of the tender reflected the new understanding that Start had gained from the DRiSL project. The Madagascar DFF is being led by WHH and DRiSL results have helped to refine the choice of data and metrics. Finally our comparison of drought risk model triggering and actual drought impacts on the ground has provided Start with an indication of the magnitude of 'basis risk' in their DFF. The experience gained by Start in working with the science community will be widely shared in the disaster risk finance space. We have developed a 'Due Diligence' guide for humanitarian organisations to guide design of science-informed risk models. This guide will be released and other DRiSL findings results will be released at a joint conference with the Centre for Disaster Protection on 25th & 26th March 2020 entitled "Impacting lives with DRF" - sharing best practice when designing DRF programmes" Note that due to the Covid-19 outbreak this conference event will be a set of
First Year Of Impact 2019
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink,Communities and Social Services/Policy,Environment
Impact Types Societal,Economic

 
Description On-line training course on Co-Production for African National Meteorological Services
Geographic Reach Africa 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Impact The course aims to improve interaction between climate scientists and stakeholders as well as improving the production of tailored climate services.
URL http://walker.ac.uk/about-walker/news-events/learning-to-co-produce-course-goes-live-on-walker-acade...
 
Description influenced design of the Start network Drought Risk Management systems
Geographic Reach Multiple continents/international 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Impact The design of the Start network operational drought risk management systems has been changed. the choice of drought models and indicators has been improved
 
Description Applying Astronomy Data Analysis to enhance disaster forecasting
Amount £100,462 (GBP)
Funding ID ST/R004811/1 
Organisation Science and Technologies Facilities Council (STFC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2018 
End 03/2019
 
Description DRISL extension work: Mobile Phone Crowd Source Surveying Innovation
Amount £60,000 (GBP)
Funding ID NE/R014272/1 
Organisation Natural Environment Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2019 
End 03/2020
 
Description Exploiting environmental data for food security in Africa: a new rainfall dataset for monitoring and early action
Amount £160,351 (GBP)
Organisation University of Reading 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 08/2019 
End 07/2021
 
Description GCRF African Science for Weather Information and Forecasting Techniques (African SWIFT)
Amount £7,971,410 (GBP)
Funding ID NE/P021077/1 
Organisation Natural Environment Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2017 
End 12/2021
 
Description INtegrated FORecasting for Mitigation of risk
Amount £152,782 (GBP)
Organisation UK Department for International Development 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2020 
End 12/2020
 
Description Learning to co-produce
Amount £20,000 (GBP)
Organisation Natural Environment Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 05/2020 
End 03/2021
 
Description Probabilistic Forecasting of Food Security in Africa
Amount £66,000 (GBP)
Organisation University of Sussex 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2018 
End 06/2020
 
Description Sussex Sustainability Research Programme - Prediction of food security crises and effective responses
Amount £100,000 (GBP)
Organisation University of Sussex 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 06/2017 
End 06/2019
 
Title Decision-relevant drought indices: Country and admin level-1 Soil Moisture and drought indices with associated Return Periods 1 for three target countries: 
Description Multiple decision-relevant drought indices: Country and admin level-1 Soil Moisture and drought indices from multiple sources of data with associated Return Periods 1 for three target countries: Zimbabwe, Pakistan and Madagascar 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2019 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact support DRiSL project 
 
Title Developed Framework for decision-making in Disaster Risk Financing 
Description A Framework for help pratcitioners understand decision-making in Disaster Risk Financing to assist with Disaster Risk Financing system design 
Type Of Material Data analysis technique 
Year Produced 2018 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Assist in design of START network Drought Finance Facility 
 
Title TAMSAT-ALERT decision support framework 
Description TAMSAT-ALERT (The TAMSAT Agricultural Early Warning System) outputs community level agricultural risk assessments based on multiple streams of data, including Earth Observation, Reanalysis and meteorological forecasts. In essence, the system addresses the question: 'Given the state of the land surface, the stage in the growing season and the meteorological forecast, what is the chance of some adverse agricultural outcome?'. So far the system has been implemented for seasonal drought risk assessment, planting date decision support and probabilistic crop yield forecasting. 
Type Of Material Computer model/algorithm 
Year Produced 2018 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact - Early warning of agricultural drought in northern Ghana during 2017 (system also run in 2018) - Plans for field trials of the planting date decision support 
 
Title Water Resources Satisfaction Index data generated for decision-relevant crop types in Zimbabwe using calibrated and validated Tamsat-Alert system 
Description Water Resources Satisfaction Index data generated for decision-relevant crop types in Zimbabwe using calibrated and validated Tamsat-Alert system 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2019 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Supports DRiSL project 
 
Description Collaboration with Global Centre for Disaster Protection 
Organisation Centre For Disaster Protection
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution DRiSL project researcher Clare Harris at Start network seconded to GCDP
Collaborator Contribution to be decided
Impact none yet
Start Year 2018
 
Description Collaboration with Global Parametrics 
Organisation Global parametrics
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution DRiSL project partners are working directly with private sector risk finance solution provider Global Parametrics to evaluate their drought risk models.
Collaborator Contribution GP have supplied data and guidance on their drought risk models
Impact Informed development of drought risk models for Start network Drought Finance Facility
Start Year 2018
 
Description Collaboration with Red Cross Climate centre Anticipation Hub 
Organisation Red Cross/Red Crescent Climate Centre
Country Netherlands 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Provision and sharing of project learning via briefs on RCCC AH site
Collaborator Contribution RCCC provide AH platform
Impact project briefings now on AH
Start Year 2020
 
Description Collaboration with Start network of international humanitarian organisations 
Organisation Start Network
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution DRiSL project partners are working with the START network of international NGOs to co-produce improved design of the START Drought Finance Facility (DFF) and to provide guidance for scientific due diligence for wider humanitarian organisations
Collaborator Contribution DRiSL project partners are working with the START network of international NGOs to co-produce improved design of the START Drought Finance Facility (DFF) and to provide guidance for scientific due diligence for wider humanitarian organisations
Impact DRiSL project partners are working with the START network of international NGOs to co-produce improved design of the START Drought Finance Facility (DFF) and to provide guidance for scientific due diligence for wider humanitarian organisations
Start Year 2018
 
Description Collaboration with WeltHungerHilfe 
Organisation WeltHungerHilfe
Country Germany 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution WeltHungerHilfe. DRiSL are working with WHH to co-produce improved design of the Drought Finance Facility (DFF) for Madagascar from 2020 under project ForPAc and INFORM working with WHH in kenya
Collaborator Contribution WeltHungerHilfe. DRiSL are working with WHH to co-produce improved design of the Drought Finance Facility (DFF) for Madagascar
Impact WeltHungerHilfe. DRiSL are working with WHH to co-produce improved design of the Drought Finance Facility (DFF) for Madagascar
Start Year 2018
 
Description Decision support for international organisations 
Organisation International Committee of the Red Cross
Department Kenya Red Cross Society
Country Kenya 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution We have provided international organisations , including the Red Cross and World Food Programme with impact relevant forecasts, which have enabled them to release funds during droughts in Africa.
Collaborator Contribution Our partners have provided a 'route to impact' for our research through their core activities of enabling poor farmers to weather drought.
Impact Provision of impact relevant forecasts has facilitated the release of WFP funds in Zambia, as part of the R4 insurance programme Soil moisture forecasts developed in these research projects have informed the development of early action protocols by the Red Cross
Start Year 2018
 
Description Decision support for international organisations 
Organisation World Food Programme (Italy, Sudan, Senegal)
Country Italy 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution We have provided international organisations , including the Red Cross and World Food Programme with impact relevant forecasts, which have enabled them to release funds during droughts in Africa.
Collaborator Contribution Our partners have provided a 'route to impact' for our research through their core activities of enabling poor farmers to weather drought.
Impact Provision of impact relevant forecasts has facilitated the release of WFP funds in Zambia, as part of the R4 insurance programme Soil moisture forecasts developed in these research projects have informed the development of early action protocols by the Red Cross
Start Year 2018
 
Description Red Cross - DREF & IARP (Innovative Approaches in Risk Preparedness) Project 
Organisation International Committee of the Red Cross
Country Switzerland 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Support Kenya Red Cross to apply for anticipatory funding from IFRC DREF FbF window by providing products to be used in the group's meetings and will contribute to IARP's trigger working group to set trigger thresholds for action on forecasts. Contribute forecast evaluations and in trigger methodology workshops.
Collaborator Contribution Red Cross DREF - ForPAc has contributed to the Red Cross trigger methodology guide & is included in the acknowledgements accordingly - http://fbf.drk.de/fileadmin/user_upload/FbF_Manual_-_A_guide_to_trigger_methodology.pdf
Impact Forthcoming.
Start Year 2018
 
Description Capacity building workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact We held a three-week virtual workshop to build the capacity of professional meteorologists in Africa to use TAMSAT drought monitoring products.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Engaged START network members in WP3 activities at a country level 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Engaged Start network members in each of our three target countries in project WP3 activities
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description ForPAc team members invited into Kenya Red Cross Early Action Protocol Technical Work Group 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact ForPAc team members invited into Kenya Red Cross Early Action Protocol Technical Work Group
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020,2021
 
Description International workshop on TAMSAT-ALERT climate services for the insurance industry 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Third sector organisations
Results and Impact Attendees at the workshop included the major players in African drought insurance and climate services, from the World Food Organisation (R4), Pula, Risk Shield, Blue Marble, CIMMYT, One Acre Fund , the Ghana Meteorological Service and the Africa Risk Capacity. The chosen organisations were a mix of international, national and third sector organisations. This is the full list of attendees:

Emily Black (overall PI) University of Reading
Rahel Diro (co-PI, participatory lead) IRI (Columbia)
Helen Greatrex (co-PI) IRI (Columbia)

Federica Carfagna ARC
Tom Philp Blue Marble/XLCatlin
Thabbie Chilongo Center for Agricultural Research Development (CARD) - LUANAR
Peter Craufurd CIMMYT
Michael Tanu Ghana meteorological service
Patrick Lamptey Ghana meteorological service
Eric Asuman Ghana meteorological service
Dan Osgood IRI (Columbia)
Markus Enekel IRI (Columbia)
Bristol Powell IRI (Columbia)
Melody Braun IRI (Columbia)
Lisette Braman IRI (Columbia)
Step Aston One Acre Fund
Steven Kogo PULA Advisors
Rose Goslinga PULA Advisors
Kalie Gold PULA Advisors
Agrotosh Mookerjee Risk Shield
Ross Maidment University of Reading
Matthew Young University of Reading
Katie Cooper University of Reading
Daniela Cuellar WFP/R4
Hussein Madih WFP/R4
Jyothi Bylappa Maralenhalli WFP/R4
William Dick WFP/R4
Mathieu Dubreuil WFP/R4

At the workshop we demonstrated the new TAMSAT-ALERT tools and explored applications. The outcomes were:
- Progress towards applying the TAMSAT-ALERT for supporting planting date for >500,000 farmers (CIMMYT and 1AF)
- TAMSAT-ALERT soil moisture forecasting services for >1M Zambian farmers (Risk Shield)
- Objective rainy season identification code passed to Pula Consultants (reaching >500,000 farmers) (Pula)
- Inclusion of TAMSAT data in the Africa Risk Capacity portal (national level forecast based finance for most of Africa) (ARC)
- New research projects agreed with Ghana Meteorological Agency (GMet)

The workshop will thus hugely expand the ODA impact of the TAMSAT-ALERT system developed during TAMSAT-ALERT and SatWIN-ALERT.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Presentation at Red Cross Africa Anticipatory Action Dialogue Platform (DP) October 2020 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Project team members contributed to expert panel discussion during to 3rd Africa Dialogue Platform on Anticipatory Humanitarian Action
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://live.anticipation-hub.org/africa-dialogue-platform/live
 
Description Presentation at the Red Cross Global Dialogue Platform Dec 2020 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact lessons from projects ForPAc and DRiSL shared via the DP event
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://live.anticipation-hub.org/?strytlpage=74
 
Description Presentations at Red Cross Africa FbA Dialogue Platform Events, Nairobi March 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Red Cross Africa FbA Dialogue Platform Events, Nairobi March 2018
Nairobi Platform Leading sessions: 'Enlightening Talks' session & 'Research on FbF' https://www.forecast-based-financing.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Report_DP18Nairobi.pdf
Presented FbA Scoping study report (Todd, Kniveton co-authors)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.forecast-based-financing.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Report_DP18Nairobi.pdf
 
Description Presented DRISL at Center for Global Disaster Protection workshop on Quality Standards in Index Insurance 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presented DRISL at Center for Global Disaster Protection workshop on Quality Standards in Index Insurance, London, 2018
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Presented DRISL project at Red Cross Forecast Based Finance Dialogue Platform 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact resented DRISL project at Red Cross Forecast Based Finance Dialogue Platform, Disaster Risk Financing session, Sept 2018, Berlin
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.forecast-based-financing.org/dialogue/
 
Description Produced a 1 pager project outline for Start members, available at Start Assemblies 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Produced a 1 pager project outline for Start members, available at Start Assembly
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://startnetwork.org/events/start-network-assembly-november-2018-meeting
 
Description Red Cross Global FbA Dialogue Platform Events, Berlin, October 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Red Cross Global FbA Dialogue Platform Events, Berlin, October 2018
Berlin 2018 Leading Sessions: SHEAR Research Outputs
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Shared the purpose of the project with Start network members in each of the countries 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Shared the purpose of the project with start network members in each of the three project target countries
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description TAMSAT user forum 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact We held a user forum for those engaged in using satellite-based data and products for climate services in Africa.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020