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No life casualties in Egypt thanks to an EU funded early warning system project for flash floods

In February 2010, when the worst flash flooding event hit Egypt since 1994 resulting in significant damage and seven deaths, the Flash Flood Manager (FlaFloM) system was used to successfully predict flooding in the Sinai area. In fact, in the pilot area where the FlaFloM early warning system was running, no casualties were reported.

The Belgian-Egyptian EU funded project FlaFloM has designed and implemented an integrated flash flood management plan for the Wadi Watier area of South Sinai. It consists of an innovative early warning system, a master plan for flash-flood management and an emergency response plan.

Although the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt suffers from severe water shortages, flash floods, when they occur in the region, cause loss of life, soil erosion, accidental pollution and severe disruption to regional development. The basin of Wadi Watier covers an area of 3,600 km² and flows into the Gulf of Aqaba at Nuweiba City, an important tourist hub  - besides the major resort of Sharm El-Sheikh located on a narrow floodplain between the sea and the Sinai Mountains. During desert storms on the El Egma plateau (1,400m above sea level and only 30 km upstream from Nuweiba City), flash floods carry large amounts of sediments and debris downstream, flooding Nuweiba City.

The FlaFloM project began in 2007 and was completed in 2009. It was coordinated by the Egyptian Water Resources Research Institute (WRRI) and the Belgian consultant company SORESMA together with the Vrije Universiteit of Brussels (VUB). The main result of the project is an accurate flash flood early warning system which can provide the necessary lead-time for local authorities to take emergency actions to minimize the number of victims and limit damage to property.

The FlaFloM system consists of four modules: 1) a Data gathering module, 2) a Forecasting module, 3) a Decision support module and 4) a Warning module. Each module processes input data and sends the output to the following module. In case of a flash flood emergency  FlaFloM is able to send in time a flood warning to the decision-makers in the area.

The ideal flash flood detection and early warning system would require water level, discharge and rainfall data collected through real-time field measurements and external forecasts. However, the project, as occurs in many arid flash flood prone areas, was confronted with data scarcity and insufficient knowledge in the flash flood driving forces. To overcome this bottleneck, the project developed rainfall intensity maps derived from two global satellite instruments:  the weather research and forecasting model (WRF) and satellite estimates from the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM).

The project also developed a master plan for flash-flood management, including the identification of best-storage options and suitable flood-protection measures, in view to contribute to sustainable management of water resources and wise use of floodwater in arid areas, and an emergency response plan in coordination with the local authorities.

FlaFloM project web site

An early warning system for flash floods in Egypt

Sunday, 13 February 2011
(General News)
Video explains risk of flash flooding and provides guidelines on how to react

A new video on the risk of flash flooding in the northern Mediterranean region has just been released by the EU funded research project IMproving Preparedness and RIsk maNagemenT for flash floods and debriS flow events (IMPRINTS). This video, which is targeted towards the general public, explains the reason for the increasing flash flooding risk in the region along with the forecasting and warning systems in place in the EU and suggests possible measures to cope with such risk and take fast action in emergency situations.

See the video: http://www.imprints-fp7.eu/en/dissemination/125-flash-floods-and-debris-flows-risk-management-part-1-living-with-the-risk

The research project IMPRINTS managed by Spain together with Italian, French, Dutch and Swiss organizations and the Institute for Environment and Sustainability of the EC Joint Research Centre based in Ispra, Italy, is working towards the improvement of preparedness and operational risk management of flash flood events. It studies innovative methods and tools to be used by emergency agencies responsible for the management of flash flood risk. In particular, the project is working on the development of an early flash floods warning system on the basis of the European Floods Alert System (EFAS). The IMPRINTS early warning system is mostly based on probabilistic forecasting using climatology data provided by the Cosmo Consortium. These data already cover Bosnia, Montenegro, Albania, Croatia, the western part of Turkey and the northern areas of Algeria and Tunisia. Therefore, the possible future extension of the IMPRINTS’ results to some of the PPRD South countries might be considered.


Sunday, 13 February 2011
(General News)
Hydro climatic disasters in water resources management: training manual. 2009
The main objective of this training manual is to build the capacity of water managers and others to develop strategies for coping with hydro-climatic disasters such as floods and drought within the context of water resources management. An added expectation is improving the resilience of vulnerable communities and reducing the impact of extreme events.

The manual builds on international experience in disaster mitigation of the United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) and the Cap-Net Global Network. Its development is an initiative of the Kenyan branch of the Nile Capacity Building Network for Integrated Water Resources Management, Nile IWRM Net.

Friday, 16 April 2010
(General News)
Applications open for the Certificate of Advanced Studies in Disaster Risk Reduction

The Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) recently launched the second edition of the Certificate of Advanced Studies in Disaster Risk Reduction (CDRR 2010). The objective of this 2x2 weeks course is to train professionals and specialists from both developed and developing countries in the field of natural disaster prevention, especially hydrometeorological disasters and/or those related to climate change.

Thursday, 25 March 2010
(International Cooperation on Civil Protection)

The Cairo based World Health Organization Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean published in 2007 the WHO e-Atlas of disaster risk for the Eastern Mediterranean Region, Volume 1: Exposure to natural hazards. The e-Atlas uses geographic information systems and various disaster models to assist disaster management decision-makers, particularly those in the countries of this Region regularly experiencing disasters, to reduce health risks to vulnerable populations due to emergencies and health crises.

Monday, 15 February 2010
(General News)

The EC funded CIRCE project - Climate Change Impacts and Research: the Mediterranean Environment - aims at developing an integrated assessment of the climate change impacts in the Mediterranean area.

Friday, 12 February 2010
(General News)
Recent multinational flood events claim heavy toll in the Middle East

In mid-January heavy wind and rains pounded parts of Egypt, the Gaza Strip, Israel and Jordan causing a number of flood events which, only in Egypt, claimed the lives of 12 people. Torrential rains left also many injured and hundreds displaced. Mudbrick homes were swept away, power lines were interrupted, roads were cut and bridges collapsed.

Wednesday, 03 February 2010

In this article of the Turkish E-Gazette "Todays Zaman" published in September 2009, floods are indicated as the second most destructive type of disaster in the country following earthquakes. According to a report prepared by the Ministry of Public Works' General Directorate of Disaster Affairs 287 floods have occurred in Turkey in the past 20 years.

Read the article.

Monday, 18 January 2010
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