Major new project launched to improve drought and flood forecasting in Kenya
Today (Monday 25th September) sees the launch of a four-year project, led by the University of Sussex, which aims to improve drought and flood forecasting in Kenya, and to put in place effective early warning systems.
The project brings together world-renowned research institutes in the UK and Kenya. In the UK the project is led by the University of Sussex, in collaboration with the University of Oxford, Kings College London, the UK Met Office and Help Age International. In Kenya, partners include the Kenya Met Department, the National Drought Management Agency, Red Cross Kenya, and ICPAC-IGAD.
The project will be launched this week, with all the partners meeting for the first time in Nairobi from the 25th-28th September.
Principal investigator, Professor Martin Todd, who researches climate change at the University of Sussex, said: "Despite advances in the science of forecasting in recent decades, drought and flood events remain a major threat to lives and livelihoods in sub-Saharan Africa. Existing early warning systems just aren't working well enough. Too often agencies and communities are only able to respond after a disaster has occurred, rather than in advance, by which time vulnerable people are already experiencing loss and suffering.
"It is a pressing issue. Currently there is a severe drought over much of the greater Horn of Africa, associated with La Niña conditions in the Pacific, which followed the devastating drought over southern Africa and Ethiopia from El Niño the previous year. These events can seriously set back long-term progress for many developing countries.
"The ForPAc project aims to both improve our advance notice of drought and flood events through weather-climate forecasts, and to identify the barriers to acting on that knowledge. By working with forecasting science experts and with humanitarian agencies in Kenya, we hope to better understand both the nature of drought and flood patterns, and the concerns and priorities of those affected. Ultimately, better preparedness can save lives."
ForPAc: Towards Forecast-Based Preparedness Action is funded by NERC and DFID through the 'Science for Humanitarian Emergencies and Resilience' Research Programme, with the University of Sussex receiving a grant of over £1million for the research.
Olivia Taylor, ForPAc project manager, said: "Our inception workshop, to be held in Nairobi next week is a very exciting watershed for the project. It is the first opportunity to gather all the ForPAc staff – including new members of research and management staff – and makes this exciting new Forecast Based action project feel very real."
More information about the project can be found at http://www.forpac.org.