Development of a flood impact forecasting system for humanitarian early actions in the Indus River basin, Pakistan

Location: Indus River basin, Pakistan
Client: Start Network

The Start Network, with its membership of over 50 aid agencies, is developing a Disaster Risk Financing system in Pakistan, to allow civil society actors in-country to proactively manage disaster risks such as droughts, heatwaves, and floods. Their aim is to reduce the impacts of weather extremes and disasters by quantifying risks in advance of disasters, pre-positioning funds, and releasing them according to pre-agreed plans, enabling earlier action, reducing the costs of disasters and increasing climate resilience.


We were selected to provide scientific modelling expertise to develop a real-time and forecast flood model for the Indus River basin. The goal was to develop a system to estimate populations in each district of Pakistan that are forecast to be impacted by flooding at a range of timescales from 1-day to 1-month ahead.


Given the timescales and resources to deploy a solution, we were able to draw on several existing models and datasets to deploy an initial flood impact forecasting system within two months of project initiation. We used the JBA Global Flood Model to quantify flood risk to population through a probabilistic catastrophe risk model, resulting in outputs such as Annual Average Loss by district, Event Loss Tables and Exceedance Probability.

For forecasting population impacts, we coupled the Copernicus Global Flood Awareness System (GloFAS) with our Flood Foresight technology to generate daily probabilistic forecasts of flood inundation extents and depths. From these digital maps we can estimate the population at risk in the short, medium and long-term.

We will host, maintain and support the system for an initial period covering the 2020 and 2021 monsoon seasons.


This fully-automated early warning system is providing the Start Network and its members with daily forecasts of flood conditions on which a series of anticipatory actions are being devised to reduce overall humanitarian impact.

This is one of a number of risk and forecast modelling solutions being deployed by us to support humanitarian and financial early action (including parametric insurance) and reduce the overall impacts of flood and weather events.

Disaster Risk Financing supports humanitarians to be better prepared in advance of crisis. In developing a flood model that will support our members to quantify the risks in advance, develop contingency plans to act early, and pre-position financing, we can act earlier to help vulnerable communities and families before a disaster turns into a large-scale crisis.

Lucretia Puentes, Head of Crisis Anticipation and Disaster Risk Financing (cover), Start Network 

Want to know more?

Email John Bevington for more information on flood forecasting, early warning systems or parametric insurance.  You can also find out more information on Flood Foresight and the Global Flood Model web pages.

Discover more of our projects on our International Development webpage.

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