Applications of Medium Range Probabilistic Flood Forecast for Societal Benefits: Lessons Learnt from Bangladesh
It has long been recognized that if society could have advanced information on weather, the adverse effects associated with extreme weather could be minimized. The prevalence of traditional forecast practices in various parts of the world reflects the demand for long-range forecast schemes to manage uncertainties associated with it. Recent advancements in long-lead flood prediction programmes in Bangladesh promise huge benefits for society and have resulted in strong interagency cooperation and networking to facilitate the development of flood forecasting schemes and their application at various levels. During the 2007 monsoon, significant efforts were made to further refine the forecasting scheme and develop institutional networking and coordination mechanisms through a series of trainings at national, district and local levels for interagency collaboration and capacity building to facilitate the generation, interpretation and communication of forecasts for at-risk communities. The value of 1–10 day long-lead flood forecast products has been demonstrated to reduce disaster risk at the community level and has proven a huge societal benefit saving life and property. This chapter describes lessons learnt on institutional and community aspects of 1–10 day forecasts in the context of severe flood experiences in Bangladesh in 2007 and 2008.
For decision makers to receive relevant information, the framework should be able to relate the adaptation issue to those who will do the planning. Given such uncertainty in regional-scale climate projections, as well as small increments expected over the next 15 to 20 years, the question arises as to whether climate change will have a discernible impact, especially when compared with rapid human-induced changes, such as deforestation and land use-induced flooding in 2010. Put another way, how much climate change has to happen to be of practical significance (i.e. beyond what can be addressed by autonomous adaptation)? The answer has a significant bearing on how climate risk information might be used for anticipatory adaptation.
The products so far delivered by scientific communities in Pakistan had no influence on the policy process, except some mention in climate-related documents in very broad terms. Products will remain of limited value to policy makers and planners until skillful forecasts of regional climate anomalies become available. Were perfect forecasts issued, it is currently unclear how the development community might assimilate this information. The development community also needs to have mechanisms that make use of climate information.
Coastal inundations are an increasing threat to the lives and livelihoods of people living in low-lying, highly-populated coastal areas. According to a World Bank Report in 2005, at least 2.6 million people may have drowned due to coastal inundation, particularly caused by storm surges, over the last 200 years. Forecasting and prediction of natural events, such as tropical and extra-tropical cyclones, inland flooding, and severe winter weather, provide critical guidance to emergency managers and decision-makers from the local to the national level, with the goal of minimizing both human and economic losses. This guidance is used to facilitate evacuation route planning, post-disaster response and resource deployment, and critical infrastructure protection and securing, and it must be available within a time window in which decision makers can take appropriate action. Recognizing this extreme vulnerability of coastal areas to inundation/flooding, and with a view to improve safety-related services for the community, as a fundamental priority of the WMO, the Joint WMO-IOC Technical Commission for Oceanography and Marine Meteorology (JCOMM) and the WMO Commission for Hydrology (CHy) have initiated this project. Its purpose is to address the challenges faced by coastal communities to enhance their safety and to support sustainable development, through the improvement of coastal inundation forecasting and warning systems at the regional scale.
The goal of the Coastal Inundation Forecasting Demonstration Project (CIFDP) is to show how coastal inundation forecasting products can be improved and effectively coordinated with warning services provided by the National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs). This process facilitates primarily by the WMO Technical Commissions, in cooperation with a consortium of experts and related institutions of excellence in the field of storm surge, wave and hydrological flooding in order to deal with the coastal inundation matter from the viewpoint of the Total Water Level Envelope (TWLE). The CIFDP contribute to the improvement of the interaction of the national operational forecasting agencies e.g. National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs) with Disaster Management Agencies (DMAs), through an integrated coastal management strategy, including the development of preparedness, response and management strategies of storm surges and waves associated with coastal inundation. These strategies are to built on the basis of hazard and vulnerability maps and related information by developing scenarios, for the use of DNAs. These scenarios are basis for disaster preparedness, and could provide valuable assistance to national partners involved in recovery and reconstruction activities.
 The 1st JCOMM Symposium on Storm Surges (2-6 October 2007, Seoul, Korea), taking into account the emerging awareness of the need to promote the storm surge activity, strongly recommended to improve prediction for total water levels that is the real source of risk in coastal areas comprising tide, wave, surge and other factors.
Fakhruddin working as a System Developer for the CIFDP and Member of PSG.
Tropical cyclones accompanied by storm surges are one of the frequent major disasters in Bangladesh. More than 5 million people living in high risk areas) in the coastal belt are extremely vulnerable to cyclonic disaster. The Cyclone of 1970 took 300,000 and 1991 took 139,000 lives; and unaccounted properties. To reduce this risks many cyclone shelters and safe havens were built along the coastal zones. But due to increased population, requirements of numbers of those safe shelters have been increased, at the same time existing shelters were not being managed properly in absence of funds and well fashioned planning. The Government of Bangladesh together with other agencies to date has built about 2033 shelters. Recently, an initiative was taken to accumulate information of these shelters in an organized and accessible database for disaster preparedness, maintenance, planning and prepare management plan for new and existing safe shelters. A survey was carried out to gather physical and management information of the existing shelters for better disaster management and planning, criteria based framework has been developed for decision making by different stakeholders. By using this stand alone software different Government departments can use this for evaluation and maintenance of shelters further improvements, construction of new cyclone shelters, planning for disaster mitigation in the coast, etc. Development partners can use this to prioritize needs and appropriate locations for disaster mitigation. NGOs for risk management plan, evacuation, shelter management, feeding center, targeting emergency response etc. Media will also to extract information on particular shelter, location, capacity etc.
Early warning system (EWS) is an integral part of human to influence perceptions, decisions and behaviour in times of adverse conditions and crises. Thus an early warning system integrated science, institutions and society for hazard detection to trigger warning, influences behavior for decision making and community response. People still EWS as their immediate warning and evacuation process to save lives. The notion of the Last Mile originated from the need that EWS have to reach people at the local and community level with appropriate information in order to ensure that anticipated responses at the Last Mile can take place (Shah, 2006). The issues of the Last Mile underscore that EWS need to pay more attention to risk knowledge, response capabilities, and vulnerabilities of communities, including aspects of temporary and long-term migration. This paper discuss about a case study from Ranong Province of Thailand which was badly affected by 2004 tsunami. The effectiveness and strength of a local EWS depend on the cultural, technological and local governance setting, and the capabilities of the community. Beside the technical skills to operate EWS, participatory approaches (PRA) are essential to support the development and improvement of EWS by enhancing the involvement of the community. A survey was conducted first under the US Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning System (US-IOTWS) program in 2007 and evaluated in 2011-2012 with the same community to identify the community vulnerability and enhancement of community based EWS. It was found that tsunami memories getting faded to the community as lack of awareness and evacuation drills. Though many people feel safe from tsunamis, the majority of people interviewed were not content with the current tsunami warning alert system and evacuation plans.
The tremendous loss of life resulting from the December 26, 2004 tsunami emphasized the necessity of establishing and improving tsunami warning systems in countries of the Indian Ocean. While the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC) in Hawaii notified officials in some countries about the probability of a tsunami generated by the Sumatra Earthquake, there were no protocols for distributing this warning information to appropriate government officials, media, community organizations, and coastal populations. The Tsunami Alert Rapid Notification System (TARNS) is a set of common protocols and procedures used to ensure that tsunami advisories or warnings are sent from a national focal point to all relevant national and local officials so that the public receives the information quickly and accurately. All the National Disaster Warning Center has the lead responsibility to enhance and refine national alert rapid notification system in their country. TARNS include a quick-response system not only for tsunami alerts but it can be expanded to include alerts for other disasters as well. A set of common procedures and protocols developed for all relevant entities, and coordinated based on the government structure, culture, infrastructure, and available technologies. Initially TARNS has been developed in the National Disaster Warning Center (NDWC) of Thailand to enhance the national early warning system in Thailand. This paper describes the development of TARNS system in Thailand.
Early warning is a key element for disaster risk reduction. In recent decades, there has been a major advancement in medium range and seasonal forecasting flood forecasting skills. This progress provides a great opportunity to improve advisories for early action and planning for flood hazard. This approach can facilitate a proactive rather than a reactive management of adverse consequences of flood events. In agricultural sector, for instance, farmers can take diversity of options such as changing cropping patterns, putting fertilizer or irrigation and planting timing. An experimental medium range (1-10 days) flood forecasting model has been developed for Bangladesh by our group providing 51 set of discharge ensembles forecasts of one to ten days with significant persistence and high certainty. This type of forecast could assist farmers and other stakeholders for differential preparedness activities. These ensembles probabilistic flood forecast has been customized based user-needs for the community level application focused on agriculture. The framework allows users to interactively specify the objectives and criteria that are germane to a particular situation, obtaining possible management options, and the exogenous influences that should be taken into account for decision making. Risk and vulnerability assessment were conducted through community consultations. The forecast lead time requirement, user-needs, impacts and management options for crops and livestock were identified through focus group discussions, informal interviews and community surveys. This paper illustrates potential applications of ensembles probabilistic medium range flood forecast which are not a common practice globally.
Fakhruddin has over 13 years of professional experience in hydrology, flood forecasting and early warning systems and community based flood disaster management working mostly in South and Southeast Asia, with national and international organizations, local authorities and donor agencies. His current professional interest and expertise is in developing long-lead flood forecasting system and integrating with community based forecast dissemination and preparedness mechanism.
The “Strengthening Disaster Preparedness of Agricultural Sector in China (TCP 3105)” Project was funded by Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) in Juye County Shandong Province being implemented from August 2007 to December 2009. The Chinese governmental counterpart institutions include: (i) Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) as national level counterpart; (ii) Shandong Provincial Department of Agriculture; (iii) Juye County Government of Shandong Province. Within the framework of the National Policy and priorities of the Governmental new legislation (2005) on natural disaster prevention, the overall project objective was to assist MOA in testing and operationalizing, on pilot basis in Juye County, the process of shifting from an emergency response focused intervention approach towards a natural disaster risk prevention/preparedness oriented approach in the agricultural sector.
Three project outputs to be achieved in the three implementing years included: i) Improved early warning system for flood and drought disasters and agriculture and market information system (from Provincial to village level); ii) Enhanced Operational Disaster Risk Management Plans for county level with focus on natural disaster risk prevention and preparedness; iii) Establishment and empowerment of farmer organizations in order to enable them participating in and contributing to community disaster risk management (CDRM). Following relevant county governmental agencies in Juye participated in the project: Agricultural Bureau; Water Resource Bureau; Meteorological Bureau; Fishery Bureau; Land Administration Bureau; Bureau of Civil Affaires; County All China Women’s Federation; Livestock Bureau.
For more information: http://www.fao.org/climatechange/china/juye/en/