National Training towards Operationalizing Pakistan’s National Flood Information System

National Training on Flood Information Systems and Operation and Maintenance of Hydro-Meteorological Stations – organized by ICIMOD with the Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) of Pakistan, and the Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) in Nowshera, Pakistan 4–6 September – built the capacity of about 30 staff members from the two agencies in Pakistan to install and remotely configure and manage hydro-met stations, troubleshoot problems with instruments, and validate and present data in different forms and formats. The training was conducted as a part of the Finnish government-funded Hindu Kush Himalayan Hydrological Cycle Observation System (HKH-HYCOS) project, which aims to improve regional flood risk management by fostering cooperation and sharing of hydro-met data among Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, and Pakistan in real or near real-time through a Regional Flood Information System.

Chaudhary Mushtaq Ahmad, Chief Engineer of WAPDA, opened the training by acknowledging the project’s contributions towards operationalizing the National Flood Information System (NFIS) in Pakistan, including the installation of three hydrological stations, upgrading of equipment, and building the capacity of station staff, data managers, and IT personnel. Akram Anjum, Director of the Flood Forecasting Division at PMD also acknowledged ICIMOD's contributions to PMD, including the installation of two meteorological stations and special instruments such as the Pluvio, which measures precipitation even under snow conditions.

Vijay Khadgi of ICIMOD presented on the progress of the HYCOS project over the last decade and said the future aim should be to "develop the capability to predict floods based on modeling". Khadgi emphasized the importance of the capacity building component of the project, which will ensure that representatives from national agencies will be able to install, operate, and maintain the equipment independently. The project will provide up to four years of support for the operation of the stations, after which the agencies will internalize the operating costs. As a part of the project, ICIMOD has initiated a pilot Regional Flood Watch for the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna basin using hydrological and hydrodynamic modeling, which will build the capacity of national partners to implement flood forecasting systems with increased lead times. Following testing, the model could be replicated for the Indus basin. Partners in Pakistan will be consulted during the development of the pilot model and also provided training. 

Saroj Dhoj Joshi of Real Time Solutions provided training on the hardware to be installed in five hydro-met and weather monitoring stations in Pakistan with a focus on the data collection platform and its associated instruments – including sensors and transducers, data loggers, and transmission systems – as part of the overall digital data transmission system. He also elaborated on various components of the Regional Flood Information System. Vijay Khadgi made a presentation about the operation and maintenance of hydro-met stations using standard operating procedures.

The following day, participants received hands-on training on the installation of different instruments, including the radar level sensor, tipping bucket precipitation sensor, and Pluvio precipitation sensor. They also received training on how to connect different instruments to data loggers, conduct basic troubleshooting, read charge controller indicators, replace fuses, take readings, and download data. Following the training, participants were taken on a field visit to a hydrological station where they installed a radar level sensor and tipping bucket precipitation sensor, connected them to the data logger, and ensured the transmission of real-time data.

On the last day, Dr Abdul Wahid Jasra, ICIMOD Country Representative in Pakistan, and Vijay Khadgi facilitated a brainstorming session to help stakeholders, including representatives from the Flood Forecasting Commission, National Disaster Management Authority, Indus River System Authority, Provincial Disaster Management Authority, District Disaster Management Authorities, and Irrigation Department, come up with activities to raise awareness in Pakistan about flood risks and to enhance levels of preparedness at national and local levels. Together, they proposed implementation plans at the national and community level to begin before the onset of the monsoon in 2013.