FATHUM summer placements: Week 1

The FATHUM team at the University of Reading have been pleased to welcome the following visitors from Africa this week.

  • Steven Chanda from the Zambian Water Resources Department (WARMA)
  • Joaquim Cuna from the Technical University of Mozambique
  • Douglas Mulangwa from the Ugandan Ministry of Water
  • Sidiky Sangare from the Direction National de L’Hydraulic in Mali
  • Moses Tumusiime from the Uganda National Meteorological Authority

Enjoying the sunshine on the University of Reading campus

They are supported by the FATHUM project and the Red Cross Climate Centre and have come to Reading to learn more about Forecast based Financing and to build capacity to potentially integrate global forecasting capabilities from GloFAS into their national systems for FbF.

Visiting ECMWF

We have arranged a three week programme of activity and study. The first week has been very busy. Everyone has given an introductory presentation about flood hydrology, monitoring and forecasting in their countries. On Tuesday there was a research workshop with the wider flood forecasting in Africa community at the University of Reading to share expertise. On Wednesday we visited ECMWF to learn more about GloFAS and the Copernicus Management Service. Sara de Wit from the University of Oxford joined us on Thursday to talk about multi-stakeholder perspectives on Fbf and to play the engaging Red Cross Climate Centre “Pay for Predictions” game. Friday saw the visitors join the bi-weekly Water@Reading Journal group to discuss Erin Coughlan de Perez et al’s paper on action-based flood forecasting and start some practical training on data analysis using GloFAS and R.

As someone who has mainly worked on UK flood forecasting I have learnt a lot about the differences and similarities between local contexts. It is great to have the opportunity for a two way exchange of ideas and expertise. My top take aways are;

  • In Mali the rivers can be 1.6km wide (that’s double the length of UoR Whiteknights lake!)
  • There is very limited flood forecasting capacity in any of our visitors countries, where models do exist they are based on observed upstream levels. However there is a growing desire to develop such capabilities (hence why our visitors are here).
  • Nothing happens in Africa without the involvement of the governments. African countries are learning from each other’s experience and have learn that the government must be included from the beginning of any FbF project
  • People living in regions which have experienced recent floods (e.g. the Limpopo region in Mozambique) are more use to decisions being made by the government and hence flood disaster management is more developed in these regions.
  • Communicating forecasts is not just a challenge of understanding but of language with over 74 local languages spoken in Zambia and 200 in Mali

I’m sure the next two weeks will be equally fulfilling. Watch this space!

Discussing GloFAS with Ervin Zsoter and Shaun Harrigan at ECMWF

Steven Chanda presenting on Zambian hydrology

Siobhan Dolan helping Douglas and Moses with the GloFAS practical

Andrea Ficchi working with Sidiky

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