Flood forecasting and community resilience in South Africa

South African catchments are impacted by a highly variable climate leading to flooding that causes substantial damage to critical infrastructure (e.g., roads, bridges, and dams), the loss of human lives and livelihoods. It is well known that flooding negatively impacts various regions of the country. For example, the City of eThekwini in the KwaZulu-Natal province in April 2022 experienced a cut off low that caused flood damage to public infrastructure exceeding a billion rand. Tropical cyclones and cut off low climate systems are some of the causes of the severe flooding (Dube et al., 2021). This proposed research project intends to investigate how new and improved flood modelling tools and access to data can be used to modernise and improve flood forecasting in South African catchments. Some of the key questions to be addressed are, (a) Has the improvement in flood modelling and access to hydrological and geospatial data, and technological resources turned the tide for improved flood forecasting in South Africa? (b) What are the data and computational limitations to timeous and accurate flood predictions in South Africa? (c) How can we improve on flood forecasting computation times and accuracy of flood predictions to support flood forecasting and dam operations in South Africa? (d) Does the size of the catchment and complexity of the river system affect the type of flood prediction solution needed? (e) How can we implement a low cost and highly efficient real-time flood prediction model (i.e., coupled hydrological-hydraulic flood model) at national scale for the purpose of flood risk management and dam operations in South Africa?




Jeremy Naidoo

BSc Hons (Hydrology)

MSc (Hydrology)