Use Case: Nepal Department of Hydrology and Meteorology

Screenshot of outputs from HIWAT Streamflow Prediction Tool for Nepal, as referenced in the DHM flood watch bulletin. Credit: SERVIR-HKH

User: Department of Hydrology and Meteorology (DHM), Hydrology Division, Ministry of Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation, Government of Nepal

SERVIR Hub: SERVIR-Hindu Kush Himalaya (SERVIR-HKH)

Geographic Location: Nepal

User Background: The DHM is the national agency responsible for monitoring and managing the hydrological resources of Nepal. It issues flow and flood forecasts and warnings for the entire country. The situational awareness of flooding conditions helps to safeguard lives and properties, while also minimizing impacts on economic activities.

Service Summary: Enhancing Flood Early Warning Services (EWS) aims to build the resilience of vulnerable communities in the Hindu Kush Himalayan region by increasing flood forecast lead times and hosting the information on an interactive web platform. The service will include an operational 15-day flood forecast based on the downscaled ECMWF-Land direct runoff ensemble routed using the Routing Application for Parallel Computation of Discharge (RAPID) model at designated river reaches agreed to by partner agencies in Bangladesh and Nepal.

Enhancing Flood Early Warning Services in Hindu Kush Himalaya

Situation: Nepal is highly susceptible to flooding from upstream mountain torrents and wide-area inundation in the Terai region. Settlements and infrastructure are concentrated in the river valleys and floodplains, which are exposed to floods each year. While Nepal’s ability to provide flood early warnings continues to improve, these warnings, most often, lack efficiency due to resource and knowledge constraints.

User Need: Currently, Nepal relies heavily on instrument-based, community-managed, upstream detection and monitoring early warning systems. As these systems are sparsely situated across the potential flooding area, they provide neither sufficient lead times nor complete forecasts that would enable the country to adequately prepare for and respond to flood events.

In order to deliver more lead time, the Government of Nepal requires medium-range hydrologic predictions. These predictions would be disseminated as probabilistic forecasts in order to build trust and enhance the credibility of forecast services amongst the public. 

User Quote:

"Flash flood predictions not only provide vital information for protection and safety, but also strengthen the case for establishing a forecast-based financing mechanism." 

– Binod Parajuli, Hydrologist, DHM Nepal

Example of Use: SERVIR-HKH engages with the DHM and its local offices in the regional provinces and local districts.

After several rounds of user consultations, DHM and SERVIR-HKH co-developed two web applications to provide easy-to-read flood forecasts based on the region-wide modeling chain. The first tool, the Streamflow Prediction Tool for Nepal, provides 10-day streamflow forecasts for 519 river segments in Nepal. The second tool, the High-Impact Weather Assessment Toolkit (HIWAT) Streamflow Prediction Tool for Nepal, provides 48-hour flash flood forecasts for 12,428 river segments in Nepal.

Once the applications were created, SERVIR-HKH conducted three rounds of capacity-building workshops to help partners become more familiar with the service package, understand the SERVIR tools that support decision-making processes, and identify opportunities for integrating them into existing forecasting systems.

Outcome of Use: 

  1. The DHM now regularly references the outputs of the prediction tools in daily flood bulletins and other information materials. During the monsoon season, these flood bulletins specifically include information generated by the HIWAT Streamflow Prediction Tool for Nepal.
  2. The two applications are now being considered for integration into the National Disaster and Emergency Management System, which is led by the Ministry of Home Affairs. Both prediction tools are now being considered for inclusion on the Government of Nepal BIPAD (Building Information Platform Against Disaster) platform.

Future Collaborations: As the benefits of the service become realized and users begin showing confidence in the flood predictions, the partnership between SERVIR-HKH, DHM and targeted communities is likely to grow.

SERVIR-HKH is planning joint validation with partners and relevant stakeholders – primarily DHM’s community-based partners such as Practical Action, Mercy Corps, and the Red-Cross – with validation locations guided by each partner’s area of interest.

Partners and stakeholders are engaging in ongoing discussions on how to best apply the existing tools and products to create end-to-end water resource systems and early warning information systems.

Based on the successful collaboration between DHM in Nepal and the Flood Forecasting and Warning Centre (FFWC) in Bangladesh, this service is being scaled out in Bhutan in an effort to complement the country’s existing forecasting system.

Additional Resources: