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Scientists helping countries prepare better for flood disasters – University of Reading

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Scientists helping countries prepare better for flood disasters

Release Date 03 May 2016

Dr Liz Stephens working with the Red Cross

Reading scientists, working with the Red Cross, have been developing and testing a Forecast-based-Financing (FbF) scheme which uses flood forecasts to trigger the release of funding for humanitarian action. This helps communities in developing countries prepare ahead of a flood event.

Forecast based Financing gets around the problem that money for aid is normally only available after disaster strikes or for long-term development projects.

Back in November 2015 the Forecast-based-Financing system was used for the first time in history by the International Red Cross to distribute preparedness items, such as clean drinking water, to households in flood-prone villages 300 km north-east of Uganda's capital, Kampala. The system has also been used in Peru to help people prepare for flooding linked to the recent El Niño (Pacific warming) event.

University of Reading researchers will be showcasing their work on flooding with partners from the Red Cross/Red Crescent Climate Centre, Department for International Development, European Centre for Medium Range Forecasting (ECMWF) and the Walker Institute; at an open event at the University on the 4th May.

The event will be attended by a wide range of policymakers and business as well as a host of research colleagues.  (You can still register to attend here).

Floods are the world's most frequent natural disaster, affecting more than 94 million people per year worldwide and they are set to become more common as a result of climate change. With an increasing population living in flood-prone areas, flood forecasting, warnings and emergency response are key to reducing the death and destruction caused by these all too frequent natural disasters.

Research at the University of Reading is contributing in three main areas:

  • Working with decision makers and communities to ensure flood forecasts and warnings are used effectively
  • Improving flood forecasts - for UK, Europe and globally
  • Understanding the fundamental processes of rainfall and flooding

Other research, looking at the value of flood warnings for Europe, showed that for every Euro invested, the return could be as high as 400 Euros over a 20 year period. The work highlighted that early flood warnings alone are not enough. People need to respond effectively to those flood warnings in order to protect life and limb and reduce damage to property, farm land and wildlife.

The open event on the 4th May is being held at the beginning of a three day community workshop on the Global Flood Awareness System (GLOFAS). GLOFAS is an operational forecasting system jointly developed by the European Commission and the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF). Researchers at the University of Reading support both the development of GLOFAS and its implementation by decision-makers.


Find out more about flood research at Reading

Register for the open event here.



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