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University of Sussex launch project to improve drought and flood forecasting

A four-year project, led by the University of Sussex, has been launched to improve drought and flood forecasting in Kenya, and to put in place effective early warning systems.

The project brings together world-renowned research institutes in the UK and Kenya. In the UK the project is led by the University of Sussex, in collaboration with the University of Oxford, Kings College London, the UK Met Office and Help Age International. In Kenya, partners include the Kenya Met Department, the National Drought Management Agency, Red Cross Kenya, and ICPAC-IGAD.

The project will be launched this week, with all the partners meeting for the first time in Nairobi from the 25-28 September.

Principal investigator, Professor Martin Todd, who researches climate change at the University of Sussex, said: “Despite advances in the science of forecasting in recent decades, drought and flood events remain a major threat to lives and livelihoods in sub-Saharan Africa. Existing early warning systems just aren’t working well enough. Too often agencies and communities are only able to respond after a disaster has occurred, rather than in advance, by which time vulnerable people are already experiencing loss and suffering.

“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, which followed the devastating drought over southern Africa and Ethiopia from El Niño the previous year. These events can seriously set back long-term progress for many developing countries.”