FEATURE STORY November 6, 2017

Strengthening Flood Forecasting in The Volta Basin: Science Cooperation Visit with Kobe & Kyoto Universities on Flood Forecasting

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • World Bank Tokyo Disaster Risk Management (DRM) Hub in partnership with Kobe and Kyoto Universities invited technical experts from Ghana, Togo, and the Volta Basin Authority (VBA) working on strengthening flood forecasting in the Volta Basin to participate in a ten-days science cooperation and learning event in Japan.
  • The participants had the opportunity to see, learn, and experience first-hand cutting-edge Japanese technologies, research, good practices, and lessons learned related to weather and hydrological observation, flood forecasting, and flood risk management through lectures and field based exercises conducted by Kobe University and Kyoto University.
  • Going forward, the DRM Hub team is exploring possible deployment of Japanese experts to provide technical support to ongoing flood management and forecasting efforts in West Africa, while building on science collaboration with universities and research institutions.

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Participants of the Science Cooperation and Learning event in Japan included technical experts from Ghana, Togo, and the Volta Basin authority. 


Overview

From November 6-17, 2017, twelve technical experts from Ghana, Togo, and the Volta Basin Authority, working on strengthening flood forecasting in the Volta Basin participated in a ten-days science cooperation and learning event in Japan organized by the DRM Hub in partnership with Kobe and Kyoto Universities. The training was implemented as part of the capacity building activities under the "Strengthening Flood Management in the Volta Basin" Project, supported by the DRM Hub. The training program was structured to focus on the following aspects:

  • Engage the participants in learning and experiencing the first-hand cutting-edge Japanese technologies, research, good practices, and lessons learned on weather and hydrological observation, flood forecasting, and flood risk management through lectures and field based exercises conducted by Kobe and Kyoto Universities
  • Assist the experts working on flood management in the Ghana, Togo and at VBA in substantiating their knowledge and experience in flood risk management and applied hydrology
  • Provide an opportunity to visit and learn from the offices and facilities of the Ministry of Land Infrastructure Transport and Tourism (MLIT) of Japan and Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA). This included daily weather observation centers, multi-purpose dams for flood control, power generation, and water supply, a public education center on water management and use and environmental conservation. Participants’ technical knowledge was reinforced through hands on training on river flow monitoring using real-time video-based technology and by testing various models and equipment, including Rainfall Simulator and Inundation Simulator.

"I was able to see and learn from the visit to JMA Osaka Regional Office and Amagase Dam managed by the Yodo River Management Office how various soft and hard investments are integrated to manage and control, or prevent, floods in Japan. I was very impressed by the integration that is made possible by institutional collaboration between MLIT’s national and river offices, as well as between JMA and MLIT. Furthermore, I was impressed how research institutions and universities are collaborating, and how the research that the universities do have a direct impact on trying to solve the problems people are facing"
Mr. Martin Addi, Meteorologist, Ghana Meteorological Agency

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Participants learning and engaging with Japanese technical experts during the site visits

Key Takeaways

Throughout the training, participants engaged in extensive discussions with Japanese experts to compile action plans that address the key challenges and highlight opportunities that would enable their efforts towards improving flood risk forecasting and management. Key takeaways from the event are:

  • Modernization of meteorological and hydrological services requires long‐term step‐by‐step efforts. Japan’s modernized hydromet systems are based upon investments made in last more than half a century.  The evolution of the system in Japan was enabled not only by technological improvement and hardware investments but through establishment of governance and coordination mechanisms, extensive capacity building, and commitment towards provision of services underpinned by update of systems and maintenance. 
  • Increasing the quality of real time observation data of river flow and rainfall from priority locations is critical to improving the Flood Early Warning System (FEWS) in the Volta basins.  Improving the distribution of automatic rain gauges and weather stations across the basins will aid in validating the precipitation input into the FEWS software.  Furthermore, with improved empirical data, Hydrological Services Department of Ghana’s flood monitoring and forecasting can be improved if rating curves can be updated.  Therefore, repairing existing hydrological and meteorological observation stations as well as installing new ones would be important.
  • Continued partnership with Japanese universities would be beneficial to strengthen technical capacities and assess the applicability of innovative flood monitoring and forecasting technologies to the West African context.  Participants were interested in learning more about some of the novel technologies introduced, such as Kobe University Space-Time Image Velocimetry (KUSTIV), Distributed rainfall-runoff/Flood inundation (DRR/FI), radar systems, etc. and invited researchers and Professors from Kobe and Kyoto Universities to Ghana, Togo, and VBA to further partner with them to test their observation systems and models in the Volta and Oti Basins.
  • Critical analysis of the appropriateness and applicability of FEWS investments is important.  The “fit-for-purpose” solutions that are applicable within the financial and geopolitical settings of the organizations and national frameworks need to be implemented in the West African context.  This could be aided by strengthening the connections and dialogue among meteorology and hydrology professionals in the region. 

"The enthusiasm and interest shown by the participants from Ghana, Togo, and VBA inspired us researchers at Kobe and Kyoto Universities. We look forward to further working with them as well as the World Bank. Especially as universities, we think we can contribute to strengthening technical knowledge and capacities that is vital to improving flood forecasting and management."
Professor Kenichiro Kobayashi, Kobe University

Way Forward

There are various opportunities to further nurture and expand on the knowledge, networks, and interests established and strengthened through this unique science collaboration and exchange between technical experts from Ghana, Togo, VBA, and Japanese universities. Based on demand and interests expressed by the participants, the World Bank Tokyo DRM Hub team will explore possible deployment of Japanese experts to provide technical support to ongoing flood management and forecasting efforts in West Africa, as well as further build on science collaboration with universities and research institutions.

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More Information About the Project:

Project Description: Strengthening Flood Management in the White Volta Basin

Feature Story: Expanding Flood Resilience in the Volta Basin with Expertise and Support from Japan

 


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