FANFAR: Reinforced cooperation to provide operational flood forecasting and alerts in West Africa

FANFAR is an European Union-financed project striving toward the vision of achieving efficient flood management in West Africa. FANFAR seeks to realize the societal benefits of hydrological forecasts and flood risk information in order for societies to be aware of and prepared for upcoming floods.

FANFAR gathers a cascade of actors from various disciplines at regional, national and local levels from 17 countries in West and Central Africa as well as external partner countries.

Cascade of actors at regional, national and local levels involved in improving West African flood management through FANFAR.

Aims

The overall aim of FANFAR is to reinforce the cooperation between West African and European hydrological modellers, field observers, data managers, operative forecast analysts, emergency managers, developers of information and communication technologies (ICT), satellite experts, and decision analysts in order to provide a co-designed, co-adapted, integrated, and co-operated hydrological forecasting and alert pilot system for West Africa.

FANFAR co-designs the system through regular workshops with representatives from all West African countries, which together define and prioritize system requirements. FANFAR co-adapts the system through joint development using open-source code. FANFAR integrates all essential components of a forecasting system, such that updated forecasts and flood risk information are produced every day. The FANFAR system is jointly operated, supported, and tested by West African and European partners.

Approach

The overarching concept of FANFAR is a multi-level, interdisciplinary cooperation built around stakeholder involvement. Several types of stakeholders are engaged, including:

  • forecast producers (involved in the setup, operation, refinement and support of the hydrological forecasting and alert system), and
  • forecast information users (involved in applying the forecast and alert information for productive purposes in society, e.g. civil protection agencies, emergency response aid organizations, farming cooperatives, and reservoir managers).
Overview the three-dimensional FANFAR approach (in green, blue and orange) and key actors in the project.

The FANFAR project has three dimensions: (i) the ICT cooperation cycle, (ii) behaviour and decision analysis, and (iii) sustainability.

The ICT cooperation cycle (green box) focuses on collaboratively adapting and deploying existing ICTs to ensure they respond to the needs and conditions in West Africa. An iterative process is followed to build and refine the forecasting system, consisting of the following steps:

  1. define specific user needs,
  2. prioritize needs and co-design system adaptations,
  3. co-adapt, develop and integrate the system components and its outputs,
  4. demonstrate system functionalities,
  5. develop capacity on how to utilize, operate, customize, and maintain the system, how to access and interpret its outputs, and how to contribute with improvements,
  6. operate, maintain and support the system, and
  7. test the system and provide feedback for the next iteration of the cooperation cycle.

This process is iterated several times, principally through four workshops in West Africa gathering an interdisciplinary group of stakeholders involved in flood management (scroll down to see the list of organisations).

The second dimension of FANFAR (blue box) is dedicated to better understand and enhance decision-making and technology adoption processes. Using a transparent and voluntary approach based on Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis and Behavioural Operational Research, stakeholders’ preferences and behaviour are analysed before, during and after the introduction of the adapted technologies. This is applied with the aim to better understand preference formation, identify critical variables that can alter preferences and enhance technology adoption, and facilitate system sustainability.

The third dimension of FANFAR (orange box) focuses on system sustainability and exploitation. Here we analyse, for example, (i) the requirements for sustained operations led by West African institutions (e.g. system costs, integration into operational workflows, additional technology transfer needs, suitable roles for different institutions), (ii) key constraints to future operations (e.g. human and financial resources, regulations), and (iii) key opportunities (e.g. combining the FANFAR system with complementary initiatives in the region). Together with appropriate partners, we strive to identify and exploit appropriate financing mechanisms to enable long-term operation of the system beyond 2020.

The FANFAR consortium

The FANFAR consortium is composed of a well-balanced group of partners from six differents institutions in West Africa (Niger and Nigeria) and in Europe (Italy, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland) together providing the necessary expertise to carry out the project.

Photo of the FANFAR partners taken during the first FANFAR workshop in Niamey, Niger in Sept 2018. From left to right: Abdou Ali (AGRHYMET), David Gustafsson (SMHI), Bernard Minoungou (AGRHYMET), Jafet Andersson (SMHI), Umar Magashi (NIHSA), Francisca Fashe (NIHSA), Bode Gbobaniyi (SMHI), Berit Arheimer (SMHI), Alice Aubert (Eawag), Hamatan Mohamed (AGRHYMET), Judit Lienert (Eawag), Aytor Naranjo (IsardSAT), Bonaventure Nwaigwe (NIHSA), Shuaib Addi (NIHSA), Tharcisse Ndayizigiye (SMHI), Francisco Silva Pinto (Eawag), Emilie Breviere (SMHI) and Emmanuel Mathot (Terradue).
FANFAR jingle composed and performed by the FANFAR coordinator.

The Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute (SMHI) is an expert agency under the Ministry of the Environment and Energy in Sweden. Through unique expertise in meteorology, hydrology, oceanography and climatology, SMHI contributes towards greater public welfare, increased safety and a sustainable society.

The hydrologists from SMHI have expertise in constructing, adapting and operating national and continental hydrological forecasting systems, and expertise in capacity development. SMHI coordinates the FANFAR project and leads work package 1 on ‘Management, dissemination and communication’.

Project coordinator is Jafet Andersson.

The AGRHYMET Regional Center is a specialized international institution in West Africa, created and mandated by thirteen member states to provide operational information for decision making in the area of food security, early warning and disaster risk management in the Sahelian and West-African region. AGRHYMET headquarters are in Niger.

The hydrologists from AGRHYMET have the expertise to produce and provide early warning information on hydro-meteorological risks such as floods on a regional level in West Africa, and to train and assist national agencies. AGRHYMET leads work package 4 on ‘Sustainability through capacity, support, dialogues and business development’.

The Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA) is a governmental agency established under the Ministry of Water Resources in Nigeria. In line with the World Meteorological Organisation guidelines, and in accordance with international best practice, NIHSA’s primary function is to provide data and information on the location of water resources in time and space, their extent, dependability, quality and the possibilities of their utilization and control on a continuous basis.

The hydrologists from NIHSA have expertise in streamflow montioring, flood assessment, alert issuance, and local hydrological knowledge. NIHSA tasks in FANFAR are to co-design and co-adapt the flood forecasting system, e.g. by integrating Nigerian streamflow observations, and to test the forecast information in practical flood management. 

The Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (Eawag) is a world-wide leading institute for research, education, and expert consulting in aquatic science and technology. Eawag researchers work closely with practitioners to maintain the bridge between theory and practice.

The decision analysts from Eawag have expertise in user participation to incorporate user preferences, objectives and needs in water system design as well as analysing behavioural responses to new technologies. Eawag leads work package 2 on ‘User needs, tests and behavioural responses’. 

isardSAT is a R&D enterprise based in Spain that provides services and solutions in the earth observation field. isardSAT develops projects that require the knowledge of the system, which are led by engineers, and projects that require a deeper knowledge of the final product, led by scientists.

The parnters from isardSAT have expertise in utilizing earth observations for hydrological applications in data-sparse regions, and capacity to support system users. isardSAT leads work package 3 focussing on the ‘Forecasting and alert Information and Communication Technology (ICT) system’.

Terradue is an ICT enterprise based in Italy. Terradue’s mission is to innovate services in earth science, tailored for data-intensive applications. Terradue come together to remove barriers and automate cloud data storage, data analysis algorithms and massive computing power.

The ICT experts from Terradue have expertise in integrating, deploying and operating cloud-based ICT systems capable of handling large data volumes and uninterrupted processing. In FANFAR, Terradue operates and adapts the Hydrology Thematic Exploitation Platform (Hydrology-TEP) which provides cloud processing capabilities and links the hydrological model with earth observations and meteorological forecasts. 

Organisations contributing to FANFAR

All those organisations are contributing to the FANFAR project and thanks to their input, improve the systems.

CountryOrganisations

Benin

Direction Générale des Ressources en Eau

Benin

Agence Nationale de la Protection Civile

Burkina Faso

Autorité du Bassin de la Volta

Burkina Faso

Secrétariat Permanent du CONASUR

Burkina Faso

Direction Générale des Ressources en Eau

Cap Vert

Agence Nationale de l’Eau

Cote d’Ivoire

DGIH

Cote d’Ivoire

Plateforme Nationale pour la Réduction des Risques et Catastrophes

Gambie

Regional Disaster Management

Gambie

Centre National de Gestion des Catastrophes et des Urgences Environnementales

Ghana

Hydrological Services Department

Ghana

National Disaster Management Organisation

Guinée

Direction Nationale de l’Hydraulique

Guinée Bissau

Direction Générale des Ressources Hydriques

Guinée Bissau

Service National de protection civile

Liberia

National Disaster Management Agency

Mali

Direction Générale de la Protection civile

Mali

Direction Nationale Hydraulique

Mauritanie

Direction Aménagement Rural

Niger

Direction Nationale de l’Hydraulique

Niger

Direction Générale de la Protection civile

Senegal

Direction de la Gestion et de la Planification des Ressources en Eau

Sénégal

Organisation de Mise en Valeur du Fleuve Gambie

Sénégal

Direction de la Protection Civile

Sierra Leone

Ministry of Water Resources

Tchad

Direction des Ressources en Eau

Tchad

Commission du Bassin du Lac Tchad

Togo

Agence Nationale de la Protection Civile

Togo

Direction des Ressources en Eau