National-scale IMpact-based forecasting of Flood Risk in Uganda (NIMFRU)


  • University of Reading


Despite significant investments in early-warning systems, only limited progress has been made towards making flood-prone communities safe (UN SDG Report, 2017). Forecast-based financing (FbF) is an initiative to enable humanitarian funds for early action to be released before a disaster on the basis of a forecast.

The initial FbF project in north-eastern Uganda has highlighted the complexity in establishing vulnerability and response thresholds to guide interventions. Scaling-up FbF across a nation is therefore a grand challenge due to the complexity of environmental, climatic and socio-economic factors affecting flood risk, the multi-sectoral impacts (health, environment, water, transport) and the range of factors affecting response at community level.

Understanding the specific vulnerabilities of communities at different seasons, and their exposure to different types of flood threat, is key to improving physical and livelihood risk assessment, preparedness, communication and response. The demand from the FbF community for impact-based forecasts at a national scale in Uganda therefore drives the need for a new approach that synthesises evidence from different disciplines including climate science, hydrology, and livelihoods.


The NIMFRU project responds to this need through a new approach that will provide comprehensive, flood impact assessments for FbF across all areas of Uganda, complementing the SHEAR-FATHUM project's outputs on forecast skill with basic household economy/socio-economic information, to guide preparedness, protection and response.

FATHUM's approach is the basis for NIMFRU's overarching aim, which is to improve the targeting, relevance and communication of flood warning and response in Uganda, through better integration and analysis of information on the sensitivities and vulnerabilities of different population groups to flood events across the agricultural year.


Through linking with the FbF initiative, NIMFRU's research outcomes will inform developments for impact-based forecasting beyond Uganda. We will achieve this new synthesis of climate science and livelihoods analysis through our well-established consortium of globally recognised leaders in hydrology, climate science and livelihoods research and practice, together with longstanding stakeholder networks and existing, strong and equitable relationships with our project partners.

With wide ranging and extensive local and regional knowledge of policy processes, our team has the critical capacity to ensure NIMRFU's work is fully embedded within national agencies, including the Ugandan National Emergency Coordination and Operations Centre's flood information system, its humanitarian relief database and its emergency response mechanisms. This will ensure the project's long term legacy, its sustainability and its extensibility beyond the pilot districts, across Uganda, and to sub-Saharan Africa and beyond.