NATIONAL-SCALE IMPACT-BASED FORECASTING OF FLOOD RISK IN UGANDA (NIMFRU)

Lead Research Organisation: University of Reading
Department Name: Walker Institute

Abstract

Despite significant investments in early warning systems, only limited progress has been made towards making flood prone communities safe (UN SDG Report, 2017). Forecast-based Financing is an initiative to enable humanitarian funds for early action to be released before a disaster on the basis of a forecast. The initial Forecast-based Financing pilot (FbF) project in North Eastern Uganda has highlighted the complexity in establishing vulnerability and response thresholds (Coughlan de Perez et al. 2016) to guide interventions. Scaling-up FbF across a nation is therefore a grand challenge due to the complexity of environmental, climatic and socio-economic factors affecting flood risk, the multi-sectoral (health, environment, water, transport) impacts and the range of factors affecting response at community level. Understanding the specific vulnerabilities of communities at different seasons, and their exposure to different types of flood threat is key to improving physical and livelihood risk assessment, preparedness, communication and response, The demand from the FbF community for impact-based forecasts at a national scale in Uganda therefore drives the need for a new approach that synthesises evidence from different disciplines including climate science, hydrology, and livelihoods. The NIMFRU project responds to this need, through a new approach that will provide comprehensive flood impact assessments for FbF across all areas of Uganda, complementing the SHEAR-FATHUM project's outputs on forecast skill with basic household economy/socio-economic information, to guide preparedness, protection and response.

FATHUM's approach is the basis for NIMFRU's overarching aim, which is to improve the targeting, relevance and communication of flood warning and response in Uganda, through better integration and analysis of information on the sensitivities and vulnerabilities of different population groups to flood events across the agricultural year. Through linking with the FbF initiative, NIMFRU's research outcomes will inform developments for impact-based forecasting beyond Uganda.

We will achieve this new synthesis of climate science and livelihoods analysis through our well established consortium of globally recognised leaders in hydrology, climate science and livelihoods research and practice, together with long standing stakeholder networks and existing, strong and equitable relationships with our project partners. With wide ranging and extensive local and regional knowledge of policy processes, our team has the critical capacity to ensure NIMRFU's work is fully embedded within national agencies including NECOC's flood information system, its humanitarian relief database and its emergency response mechanisms. This will ensure the project's long term legacy, its sustainability and its extensibility beyond the pilot districts, across Uganda, and to Sub-Saharan Africa and beyond.

Planned Impact

DIRECT BENEFICIARIES of this project include local communities in Katakwi district (pop 178,800, 95% living in rural areas), who will benefit directly from the flood impact and agricultural information transmitted through UNMA's Farmer AgriMet Village Clinics (FAMVACs) and local radio forums. The FAMVACs will use the project's enhanced flood impact evidence at LC5 and LC3 levels to secure improved investments in local flood response and livelihood protection, providing a model for transparent, evidence-based decision making, accountability and good governance.

INDIRECT BENEFICIARIES include the 21 million people worldwide who are affected by river floods, on average, each year (World Resources Institute, 2015). It is estimated that this number could increase to 54 million by 2030 due to climate change and socio-economic development. The methodology for providing credible flood early warning and improved, livelihood relevant response that will be an outcome of this research, is designed to minimise late response to flood warnings and reduce the number of lives lost through floods (157,000 over the past 20 years, UNISDR The Human Cost of Weather Related Disasters, Jan2016)

NATIONAL INSTITUTIONS/DECISION-MAKERS will benefit from the project's technical advances. It will provide NECOC with flood/socio-economic vulnerability assessments through the Livelihoods Impact Based flood forecasting (LIMB) tool and data platform, allowing enhanced national emergency preparedness and disaster response. The integrated data platform and associated archives will lead to a sustained improvement in understanding of trends around climate and livelihoods to inform national and regional planning. Through its FAMVAC network, the Uganda Met service (UNMA), will offer enhanced climate information services, with advice tailored to local livelihood systems and flood risks. The economic value of this information to smallholder farmers will justify further investment in UNMA. The Department for Water Resource Management (UDWRM in the UMWE) will apply findings from this research in its Catchment Management Plans (CMP; Statement of Support attached) to guide the integrated management and development of water resources, using Katakwi district as a pilot. The NIMFRU knowledge synthesis training (linked to CSAT) and curriculum work will equip Academic partners with skills to maintain the flood-livelihoods vulnerability database and lead further research into flood early warning and socio-economic response at community level. This will provide Uganda with a long term resource to maintain data collection and integration in the LIMB/NECOC system

Building on well-established government, civil society, private sector and academic networks REGIONAL, INTERNATIONAL & BILATERAL DEVELOPMENT PARTNERS will be made aware of project methodology and findings. Partners will initiate discussions at EAC and AU levels to promote the wider application of NIMFRU's tools and approaches to reduce loss of life and livelihoods across the continent and beyond. Private sector relevance of the LIMB extends to weather index and micro insurance, commodity trading and agribusiness; renewable energy; and banking including micro finance.

NON-GOVERNMENTAL & CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANIZATIONS including CAN-U will use information from this project to strengthen their climate and environmental policy work. LYF's local radio work, combined with the FAMVAC network will facilitate knowledge exchange, increasing understanding of marginalised, local and sub-national issues. The LYF Radio Extension platform together with RAINWATCH-Uganda (www.rainwatch-africa.org) will benefit smallholders in the pilot communities through a two-way dialogue. Work with LYF will extend NIMFRU's reach through the delivery of agricultural extension and weather information via Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC) and Uganda Rural Development and Training Programme (Kagadi) & the Kagadi-Kibaale Community Radio.

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