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14 Aug 2020 | SERVIR-HKH

Flood early warning saves lives

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Ensuring that the right information reaches the right audience at the right time is crucial to reducing disaster impacts

The HKH is not just disaster-prone, it’s prone to multiple disasters which can cascade. These disasters – particularly floods, which account for a third of all disaster events in the HKH – often transgress country boundaries and transboundary efforts to address the shared risks can lead to more effective emergency response and disaster risk reduction. Through our deep experience working with communities on community-based early warning systems (CBFEWS) and our expertise in climate services including flood information systems, we are positioned as a platform for knowledge exchange and effective evidence-based policy making.

Leveraging that position as a platform, we co-convened with GEO Global Water Sustainability (GEOGLOWS) a regional knowledge forum on early warning for floods and high-impact weather events in Kathmandu, Nepal, in October 2019 to deliberate on key challenges facing regional and national hydrological and meteorological services on the use of information services for water and weather-induced disasters in South and Southeast Asia. Discussions focused on ongoing efforts to generate and disseminate early warning effectively across different levels. Participants also discussed infrastructure and hydroinformatics tools required to enable the widespread use of Earth observation information.

The event also highlighted our collaboration with the SERVIR Applied Science Team to enhance current flood forecasts by integrating global satellite and modelled data with regional and local forecasts. This collaboration has led to the development of the Streamflow Prediction Tool, which generates ongoing medium-range flood forecasts for every river stretch and accompanying retrospective hindcasts, and the High Impact Weather Assessment Toolkit (HIWAT), a weather forecasting tool that provides additional lead time for forecasting authorities to reduce the impact of high-impact weather events. We are working on the joint validation of flood forecasts generated from these tools with concerned bodies in Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Nepal.

Through our deep experience working with communities on community based early warning systems (CBFEWS) and our expertise in climate services including flood information systems, we are positioned as a platform for knowledge exchange and effective evidence-based policy making.

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