Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder

CSTPR Noontime Seminar

Flood modelling and early warning assessments for downstream communities of Koka Dam, Ethiopia

This talk will be available via webcast here.

An estimated 3,700 major dams (>1 MW capacity) are either planned or under construction, primarily in developing countries (Zarfl et al., 2014). While hydroelectric dams provide benefits such as electricity generation and economic revenue, they have the potential to flood downstream communities during releases preceding or following heavy precipitation events. In developing countries, where historical precipitation and flow data are limited, minimizing the impacts of these releases on downstream communities presents challenges for national governments and dam managers. In response, the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre (Climate Centre) developed a self-learning algorithm (FUNES) software for flood forecasting to manage flood risks in vulnerable downstream localities. Successfully piloted in Togo in 2016, this innovation may enable regions with only a few years of data on river flow, precipitation, and local impact to provide flood warnings that can save lives and reduce losses in the immediate term, and open prospects for managing floodwater as a productive asset in the long term. This presentation is based on quantitative and qualitative data collected as a part of the Climate Centre internship in Addis Ababa and rural communities in Ethiopia. The primary goal of the study was to assess the feasibility of expanding FUNES to Koka Dam, Ethiopia’s oldest hydroelectric dam. While controlled releases from Koka Dam do not result in loss of life for downstream communities, these releases flood agricultural land and impact the economic prosperity and health of downstream communities. In this presentation, I argue that implementing FUNES on Koka Dam is feasible and has the potential to benefit downstream communities.

Katie ChambersKatie graduated from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo (Cal Poly) in June 2016 with a BS in Environmental Engineering. Her extensive involvement in Cal Poly's student chapter of Engineers Without Borders sparked an interest in how engineering can help address the basic needs of developing communities, which motivated her to pursue a graduate education. She is currently completing MS and PhD degrees in Environmental Engineering and a certificate in Engineering for Developing Communities at the University of Colorado Boulder. Broadly, her research interests include both the social and technical factors that contribute to the long-term functionality and resilience of sanitation systems in resource-limited settings. She was selected at the 2017 Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre intern, performing flood modelling and early warning assessments in Ethiopia.


Wednesday, January 24, 2018
2018 - 12:00 to 13:00





  • CIRES employees
  • CU Boulder employees
  • General Public
  • NOAA employees
  • Science collaborators


  • Seminar
  • Open to Public



CSTPR Conference Room