Major boost for drought, flood forecasting efforts

Tuesday September 26 2017

A photo of a cow carcass in Korbesa, Isiolo County, on August 2, 2017. The region has been ravaged by drought. PHOTO | VIVIAN JEBET | NATION MEDIA GROUP


Kenya’s drought and flood forecasting efforts have received a major boost with the launch of a project led by the University of Sussex that is aimed at establishing effective early warning systems.

Once implemented, the project is expected to improve the country’s capacity to detect and mitigate droughts and floods.

The project is spearheaded by Towards Forecast-based Preparedness Action (ForPAc), a research consortium working on early warning and humanitarian action.


The group brings together world-renowned researchers in the United Kingdom and East Africa.

It seeks to improve drought and flood forecasts as well as overcome barriers to acting on such predictions.


The University of Sussex is working in collaboration with the University of Oxford, King’s College London, the UK Met Office and HelpAge International.

Partners in Kenya include the Meteorological Department, the National Drought Management Authority, Kenya Red Cross, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad) and the Igad Climate Prediction and Application Centre.

All the project partners are meeting for the first time in Nairobi, where the project will be launched.

The meeting started on Monday and runs until Thursday.

Principal investigator Martin Todd, who researches on climate change at the University of Sussex, said early warning systems in Africa are not working as they should.

He added that most agencies and communities have mostly limited themselves to responding after disasters have occurred.

Prof Todd said drought and flooding remain major threats to livelihoods in Africa, exposing vulnerable segments of society to loss and suffering due to inadequate early warning and detection capability.

“Despite advances in the science of forecasting in recent decades, droughts and floods remain a major threat to lives and livelihoods in sub-Saharan Africa,” he said.

He said the prevailing drought was a pressing issue that posed a risk to the long-term development goals of countries in the region.

“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.”