Thursday, November 19, 2015

'Humanitarian history' made in Uganda as forecast-based financing is launched

By Climate Centre, BRACED
In a ground-breaking humanitarian action triggered by a scientific forecast of flood risk, the Uganda Red Cross (URC) Friday distributed just under 5,000 preparedness items to flood-prone communities in Kapelebyong sub-county, some 300 km north-east of the capital, Kampala.
The action was based on a forecast of rising water-levels in the Teso area – especially in Amemia parish.
The non-food items (NFI) were procured under ‘forecast-based financing’ with the support of the German government through the German Red Cross, who have established a special mini-site.
The URC mobilized the supplies as soon as a predetermined threshold of forecast risk was crossed on Thursday. It was the first full humanitarian use of forecast-based financing, which had only been piloted. 
Dysentery
“One of the disaster effects we were targeting is waterborne disease,” said Irene Amuron, URC Disaster Risk Reduction Manager, who led the operation.
Local Acting Chief Administration Officer Paul Edotu had indicated that dysentery existed in the area, and the authorities were anxious to prevent it.
“The teams distributed two jerrycans, two bars of soap, and a month’s supply of water purification tablets to 370 households in the villages of Okoboi, Omatai, Apedu and Akulonyo,” Amuron added.

A resident of Kapelebyong sub-county gets humanitarian supplies. Photo: Denis Onyodi
After receiving his distribution card, Local Council II Chairman, Francis Olum, explained that people had been preparing for possible effects of El NiƱo, according to a URC press release.
“In 2007, we were taken unawares by the flooding,” he said, “but this time we are happy the Red Cross is coming in earlier.”
Global flood model
The Red Cross trucked the NFI from a warehouse in Kampala; they arrived at the URC Soroti branch office on Friday and were distributed the same morning to the Kapelebyong communities.
The URC will continue to support residents to prepare for possibly worsening rainfall, although the forecast indicated risk above a particular level – not certainty of disaster.
“The Uganda Red Cross are immediate responders in times of disaster,” URC Secretary General Robert Kwesiga said.
“By using forecasts in this innovative project, we are now intervening even earlier, before 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.”
The forecast used in Uganda was based on the European Commission’s Global Flood Awareness System and verified with the Uganda National Meteorological Agency, the Uganda Hydrological Department, and the European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasts.
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