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URCS Launches Disaster Forecast-based Action

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Uganda Red Cross on 14th November distributed 4950 preparedness items in flood-prone communities of Kapelebyong Sub County, and Amuria in a groundbreaking response, based on a scientific forecast of flooding in the region. The items have been procured with financial support from German Red Cross through a Disaster Preparedness Fund. Previously, humanitarian organizations had to wait for reports of damages, losses, and suffering in order to be able to mobilize funding and materials to respond to a disaster. In this state-of-the-art project of “Forecast based Financing”, Uganda Red Cross mobilized the NFIs immediately, before reporting suffering. They triggered action based on a forecast of rising water levels this week in the Teso area, particularly in Amemia Parish.
 
Clean water shortage
The floods contaminate many water sources. The Red Cross team organized for transport of non-food items from the warehouse in Kampala, loading trucks with jerry cans, hoes, chlorine tablets, sacks and soap. The items arrived at the office in Soroti Branch on Friday, and were disbursed that morning to pilot communities in Kapelebyong.
While water levels have continued to rise in the area, the team is confident that the items disbursed will enable residents to avoid potential disaster impacts.
“One of the disaster effects they are targeting is the spread of waterborne diseases. Many areas in Teso have a history of dysentery, and Red Cross is working to prevent any disease outbreak. The teams have distributed two jerry cans, two bars of soap, and a month’s supply of water purification tablets to every household in the villages of Okoboi, Omatai, Apedu and Akulonyo.”
Standby efforts on ground
Uganda Red Cross Society has volunteers on standby throughout Uganda, and Uganda Red Cross are immediate responders in times of disaster. By using forecasts as the new innovative approach, we are now intervening even earlier - before even receiving reports of disasters. With such a timely disbursal, we hope to avoid potential catastrophe before it even happens, supporting people to continue working and going to school in this region.”

The forecast that was received by the team this week is based on the global flood model GloFAS, selected and verified in collaboration with the Uganda National Meteorological Agency, the Uganda Hydrological Department, the European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF), and the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission (JRC).

Climate Change
As climate change affects the patterns of rainfall and temperature around the world, Uganda could see changes in the patterns leading to of extreme events. Being able to anticipate potential extreme events before they happen is critical to being able to avoid an increasing number of weather-related disasters in the future.

This innovative approach is part of an Integrated Climate Change Adaptation project funded by the Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development; it is implemented in partnership with the German Red Cross and the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre.

The team will gather evidence from this first-ever disbursal of items based on a forecast, and document how preparing for disaster effects has supported the participating communities through the coming season.
 
Evidence from Uganda will inform the development of similar pilots in 15 countries around the world, which aim to replicate this approach to using forecasts to trigger action before a potential disaster. Detailed methodologies and lessons learned will be presented at the Dialogue Platform on Forecast-based Financing in Geneva later this year, prior to the World Humanitarian Summit in 2016.

Forecast-based financing forms the cornerstone of the German Action Plan of the Federal Foreign Office for Humanitarian Adaptation to Climate Change, recognizing that we can use forecasts to be more efficient and effective in light of rising risks around the world due to climate change.

URCS Contacts

Plot 551/555 Rubaga Road.
P.O. Box 494, Kampala Uganda.
Tel:     (256) 414 258701
Tel:     (256) 414 258702
Email: sgurcs@redcrossug.org

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