5.5 Regional Flood Information System for Flood Forecasting in the Hindu Kush Himalayan Region

Wednesday, 9 January 2013: 11:30 AM
Room 10A (Austin Convention Center)
Mandira S. Shrestha, International Center for Integrated Mountain Development, Kathmandu, Nepal, Nepal; and V. K. Khadgi, C. Dorji, M. S. Hossain, M. Hossain, G. Rajkarnikar, M. Ahmad, and R. A. Khan

Rapid advancement in communication technology is making access to information faster, more reliable and cheaper. At the same time, hydrological and meteorological monitoring technologies continue to improve significantly. The project “Establishment of a regional flood information system in the Hindu Kush Himalayan region (HKH-HYCOS) aims to exploit these emerging technologies and provide a total end-to-end flood information system that will function as a decision support tool for decision makers to alert vulnerable communities in a timely fashion. A wide range of modern technologies need to be employed to record hydrological and meteorological observations and transmit the results in real time in order to be useful for saving lives and property.

The project has a focus on the HKH region with a particular focus on the six countries of Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Nepal and Pakistan. Although these countries share the major river basins of the Ganges, Brahmaputra, Meghna and Indus, limited data is shared between the countries on a regional level. Some of the worst floods in living memory have occurred in theses basins in the past decade, undoing decades of development progress, hampering economic growth, and exacerbating poverty in flood-affected areas. The Pakistan floods of 2010, for instance, killed about 2,000 people and affected 20 million. A breach of the Koshi embankment in 2008 displaced more than 70,000 people in the country and over 4 million in Bihar in neighbouring India. Most of these countries have limited access to funds and know-how on operationalising an effective flood information system – which has to be regional in order to be meaningful for transboundary basins. This calls for meaningful regional cooperation of the countries sharing the basins, to support disaster prevention and flood management at a regional level.

ICIMOD, in its capacity as a regional knowledge hub, in collaboration with the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the national partners is implementing the project to transfer the capacity, technology and know-how on operationalising such a system. A total of 24 hydrometeorological stations have been installed in the HKH region with fully operational, real- or near-real-time river level, rainfall, and related data from these selected stations available in the regional and national flood information system. The regional and national flood information systems are web-based systems which will integrate WMO GTS stations as well as satellite rainfall estimation products to support flood forecasting in the countries. By integrating data products from other countries and projects across the region, it is also adding immense value to the system. This paper discusses these efforts, challenges and steps being taken to overcome these.

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