Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2021-177
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2021-177

  16 Apr 2021

16 Apr 2021

Review status: this discussion paper is a preprint. It has been under review for the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS). The manuscript was not accepted for further review after discussion.

Using Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis for transdisciplinary co-design of the FANFAR flood forecasting and alert system in West Africa

Judit Lienert1, Jafet Andersson2, Daniel Hofmann1, Francisco Silva Pinto1, and Martijn Kuller1 Judit Lienert et al.
  • 1Eawag: Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science & Technology, Environmental Social Sciences (ESS) Department, Ueberlandstrasse 133, 8600 Duebendorf, Switzerland
  • 2Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute (SMHI), Hydrology Research, 601 76 Norrköping, Sweden

Abstract. Climate change is projected to increase flood risks in West Africa. The EU Horizon 2020 project FANFAR co-designed a pre-operational flood forecasting and alert system for West Africa in three lively workshops with 50–60 stakeholders, adopting a transdisciplinary framework from Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis (MCDA). We aimed to (i) exemplify MCDA as a structured transdisciplinary process; (ii) prioritize suitable FANFAR system configurations; and (iii) document and discuss empirical evidence. We used various interactive problem structuring methods in stakeholder sessions to generate 10 objectives and design 11 FANFAR system configurations. The non-additive MCDA model combined expert predictions about system performance with stakeholder preferences elicited in group sessions. All groups preferred a system producing accurate, clear, and accessible flood risk information that reaches recipients well before floods. To receive this, most groups would trade off higher operation and maintenance costs, development time, and implementing several languages. We accounted for uncertainty in expert predictions with Monte Carlo simulation. Sensitivity analyses tested the results’ robustness for changing MCDA aggregation models and diverging stakeholder preferences. Despite many uncertainties, three FANFAR system configurations achieved 63–70 % of the ideal case over all objectives in all stakeholder groups, and outperformed other options in cost-benefit visualizations. Stakeholders designed these best options to work reliably under difficult West African conditions rather than incorporating many advanced features. The current FANFAR system combines important features increasing system performance. Most respondents of a small online survey are satisfied, and willing to use the system in future. We discuss our learning drawing from design principles of transdisciplinary research. We attempted to over-come “unbalanced ownership” and “insufficient legitimacy” by including key West African institutions as consortium partners and carrying out co-design workshops with mandated representatives from 17 countries. MCDA overcomes challenges such as “lack of technical integration”, or “vagueness and ambiguity of results”. Whether FANFAR will have a “societal impact” depends on long term financing and system uptake by West African institutions after termination of EU sponsoring. We hope that our promising results will have a “scientific impact” and motivate further stakeholder engagement in hydrology research.

Judit Lienert et al.

Status: closed

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on hess-2021-177', Anonymous Referee #1, 26 Apr 2021
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Judit Lienert, 23 Jun 2021
  • RC2: 'Comment on hess-2021-177', Anonymous Referee #2, 17 May 2021
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Judit Lienert, 23 Jun 2021
  • RC3: 'Comment on hess-2021-177', Anonymous Referee #3, 26 May 2021
    • AC3: 'Reply on RC3', Judit Lienert, 23 Jun 2021

Status: closed

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on hess-2021-177', Anonymous Referee #1, 26 Apr 2021
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Judit Lienert, 23 Jun 2021
  • RC2: 'Comment on hess-2021-177', Anonymous Referee #2, 17 May 2021
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Judit Lienert, 23 Jun 2021
  • RC3: 'Comment on hess-2021-177', Anonymous Referee #3, 26 May 2021
    • AC3: 'Reply on RC3', Judit Lienert, 23 Jun 2021

Judit Lienert et al.

Judit Lienert et al.

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Short summary
West Africa faces serious floods, affecting millions of people every year. The FANFAR project co-designed a flood forecasting and warning system at lively workshops together with 50–60 key West African stakeholders. We prioritized FANFAR system configurations that best meet stakeholders’ needs and expectations. Stakeholders preferred a system producing accurate, clear, and accessible flood risk information, which works reliably under difficult West African conditions.