Flood forecasting for African National Societies: University of Reading summer school

Flood forecasting for African National Societies: University of Reading summer school
26 August 2019

The Climate Centre last month facilitated a group of specialists from Mali, Mozambique, Uganda and Zambia to attend a three-week course at the UK’s University of Reading centred on flood forecasting, triggers in forecast-based financing (FbF), and the Global Flood Awareness System (GloFAS).   

They are (alphabetically) Steven Chanda from the Zambian Water Resources Management Authority, Joaquim Cuna from the Technical University of Mozambique, Douglas Mulangwa from the Ugandan Ministry of Water and Environment, Sidiky Sangare from the Direction Nationale de l’Hydraulique du Mali, and Moses Tumusiime from the Uganda National Meteorological Authority.

Their course was jointly facilitated by the university’s UK-supported FATHUM programme.

The four African nations are developing FbF systems, but with only the relatively limited capacities of their national meteorological and hydrological services.

“The knowledge and skills acquired [at Reading] will be used to develop the trigger system for forecast-based action in Mali, with a view for better preparation for flood management,” said Sidiky Sangare.

“We will use GloFAS to disseminate climate and hydrological information for flood warning in Mali’s river basins, with a view to reducing the vulnerability of local residents to floods by securing their lives and livelihoods.”


Moses Tumusiime said the group had been introduced to new techniques in processing data: “We have been used to Excel which is a low-level tool and limited to some extent; now I have learned how to use tools such as RStudio.”

The team plan to work with their respective National Societies to support the development of FbF triggers and provide advice on integrating GloFAS into their national systems.

Reading’s Dr Andrea Fichi and Dr Linda Speight facilitated the sessions in which the group also shared their own countries’ experience of flooding and forecasting.

“There is very limited flood-forecasting capacity in any of our visitors’ countries,” Dr Speight wrote, but “there is a growing desire to develop such capabilities.”

She added: “African countries are learning from each other’s experience [and] that the government must be included from the beginning of any FbF project.”

Participants also visited the UK Environment Agency, its leading body for the management of flood risk, and the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, joint developers with the European Commission of the GloFAS system.

Steve Chanda from the Zambian Water Resources Management Authority gets to grips with GloFAS during last month’s course, assisted by the University of Reading’s PhD researcher Maureen Wanzala. (Photo: social media)