Displaying 1-20 of 30 key documents
Source: UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction
This document is one of the outcomes of the Third International Conference on Early Warning in 2006, held in Bonn, Germany. It presents a series of practical checklists that cover elements, actions and good practices to assist in developing, evaluating or refining early warning systems. It is presented as a non-technical reference tool rather than an extensive 'how-to' list for designing early warning systems. The document also provides background information on early warning, which includes an overview of four key themes (risk knowledge, monitoring and warning service, communication, response capability), as well as cross-cutting issues such as governance and involvement of local communities. It also outlines the roles of key actors (such as local governments and international bodies) within each theme,, without discussing any overlap of responsibilities and how they relate to the different elements of early warning systems.
Source: UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction
This document presents a collection of selected papers produced for and discussed at the Second International Conference on Early Warning, in Bonn, Germany, in 2003, and four regional conferences in Africa, Asia/Pacific, America and Europe. The conferences focused on integrating early warning into sustainable development policy. The document notes the failure of scientists, policymakers, local authorities and other relevant actors to use early warning systems efficiently, and makes suggestions for improvement. It highlights challenges, lessons learnt and possible trajectories for further development of early warning systems, and outlines key steps towards strengthening frameworks, finding resources, and designating responsibilities. Key areas for action include improving data collection, ensuring that warning systems focus on people and achieve gender balance, and creating platforms for early warning dialogue.
Source: International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies | 2009
The 2009 edition of the World Disasters Report, published annually by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, focuses on early warning systems and the potential for such systems to inform early action as crucial aspects of disaster risk reduction.
The report stresses the need to recognise early warning not just as a technology, but as a system; it also stresses the need for a "people-centred" approach to these systems. This approach suggests that communities at risk of disaster have high levels of understanding of the threats to their own survival, and knowledge about social networks that offer information-sharing potential. The report argues that scientific and other institutions must provide communities with the right support to strengthen this knowledge and build resilience.
Recommendations and case studies detail the benefits and opportunities for communities to get involved at different stages of the early warning system. In addition to outlining the people-centred approach, the report explores its relevance to climate change and food insecurity. Annexes in the report include statistics on disaster patterns over the last 20 years, as well as progress in implementing risk-reduction measures.
Source: UN Environment Programme | 2012
This report provides an inventory of existing early warning systems, organised according to the type of environmental threat. It covers a range of hazard types — differentiating between rapid- and slow-onset events — and spans developing as well as developed nations.
The report introduces basic concepts behind early warning systems, including the policy and operational aspects; looks at the role of earth observation in these systems; describes existing systems for several hazards; and presents gaps that remain in spite of improvements in scientific knowledge and technology, future perspectives and a global multi-hazard approach to early warning.
It concludes with recommendations for strengthening the capacity for early warning, with specific reference to developing regions. Suggestions include expanding the geographical coverage of systems, improving prediction capabilities, developing warning infrastructures and promoting education programmes on disaster preparedness.
Source: Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe | 2009
This publication discusses the importance of considering gender differences in the design, implementation and life-cycle of early warning systems, as part of a series of briefs aimed at practitioners. It introduces the terminology and concepts behind gender and early warning systems, illustrates how women are excluded from key elements of these systems, and briefly outlines steps towards integrating gender issues.
The publication acknowledges that although women are one of the major vulnerable groups affected by disasters, they are unrepresented in the coordination of early warning systems, while gender is still often ignored in efforts aimed at disaster preparedness. It also acknowledges that women do not just represent vulnerability, but provide opportunities for enhancing early warning systems through social ties and local knowledge.
Source: Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A | 2006
This paper reviews the main elements and development of early warning systems, and calls for a global, comprehensive and people-centred system for all hazards and all countries. It stresses the need for a strong focus on the people exposed to risk, as well as a systems approach that incorporates all relevant factors contributing to that risk — whether they arise from natural hazards, social vulnerabilities, or other processes such as migration or development practices.
The paper highlights two disaster reduction frameworks — the Hyogo Framework and the UN International Strategy on Disaster Reduction — which it says are "critically important" for implementing better early warning systems. It concludes by emphasising that despite scientific and technical advances, putting them into practice effectively will require sound institutional mechanisms and multidisciplinary science.
Source: UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction | 2006
This report synthesises the findings of a global survey that identifies gaps in early warning systems, which was carried out by the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) in collaboration with a multi-party working group.
It comments on mixed progress made in each of the UNISDR's four elements of early warning systems: risk knowledge; monitoring and warning service; dissemination and communication; and response capability. The report highlights areas where considerable advances have been made — for example in developing the knowledge and tools required to assess risks and communicate predictions and warnings — as well as where significant inadequacies still exist, such as basic equipment and skills.
The report also discusses challenges that need to be overcome for each of the above elements of early warning systems. It identifies cross-cutting issues, including insufficient coordination and a lack of participatory approaches, and concludes with a summary of recommendations for the next steps towards creating a comprehensive global early warning system for all natural hazards.
Source: UN International Strategy on Disaster Reduction, Kyoto University, European Union
This document aims to build awareness for indigenous knowledge as an effective tool for reducing risk from natural hazards including earthquakes, cyclones (typhoons) and droughts.
It presents a collection of 18 indigenous practices developed by communities in the Asia-Pacific region. These include earthquake-safe traditional house construction practices in Kashmir, soil and water conservation through bamboo plantation in Assam, and village tank cascade systems for drought mitigation in Sri Lanka.
The collection also provides an overview of the types of indigenous knowledge that can exist in the context of disaster preparedness and early warning, and how integration with scientific practices can lead to better outcomes.
Source: Humanitarian Futures Programme | May 2010
This paper discusses how forecasters and risk managers can build common ground by designing 'smart' forecast‐based decisions as well as simple decision‐based forecasts. The aim is to bridge the gap between science and the humanitarian sector, and help translate early warning into early action.
It details successful examples of collaboration between forecasters and the risk managers. These include the 2008 emergency appeal, launched by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) West and Central Africa Zone, to prepare for flooding based on a seasonal rainfall forecast.
The paper describes how unlike previous years, where forecasts had been greeted with confusion, a partnership between the IFRC and the International Research Institute for Climate and Society allowed the flood forecast and accompanying uncertainty to be communicated effectively to the humanitarian policymakers, enabling them to act in time.
It proposes a framework based on four key attributes of science-based forecasts: the likely location of the event, its magnitude, its lead time (how far into the future it is likely to occur) and, its probability. These are then linked, respectively, to vulnerability, expected loss, range of plausible actions and whether or not to act.
PreventionWeb is a gateway to information on disaster management, with a special focus on disaster risk reduction and preparedness.
Progress reports on countries' efforts towards the Hyogo Framework for Action can be found here, as well as news and feature articles.
There are also training and educational materials; hazard profiles and maps; and publications on emerging themes. Information is organised by hazard type, theme, and country or region.
This report gives an overview and analysis of early warning technologies and capacities in the developing world, including the basic concepts of early warning systems and the role of earth observation for disasters and the environment. While focusing on existing systems, it also addresses gaps in monitoring, communication and response that need to be filled to improve timely decision-making for slow-onset emergencies.
The authors highlight that much more needs to be done before a global multi-hazard system can be developed. Recommendations for filling operation gaps include: improving existing technologies and systems; building infrastructure and capacities in developing countries most at risk; and bridging science and decision making.
Source: Asia-Pacific Network for Global Change Research (APN) | September 2007
This technical report presents a tool designed to help understand the consequences of climate change on the coastal zone systems of the Asia Pacific regions, and examine long-term adaptation and mitigation strategies.
The tool comprises three components: a model of hydrological and biogeochemical processes, an impact assessment tool and a multi-criteria decision-making tool. It focuses on flooding, nutrients, salinity and sedimentation in the coastal areas of Australia, Bangladesh, Japan, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam.
The report presents the methodology used to develop the tool, results of case studies conducted using the tool, and key findings. It highlights that different countries prioritise flooding issues and adaptation measures differently. The case studies are ongoing, and are due to be expanded to other parts of Asia Pacific and to include other issues such as groundwater.
Source: Center for Global Development | September 2011
This report presents findings from the first randomised evaluation of a cash transfer programme delivered using mobile phones. The study investigated the effect of mobile phone technology on monthly cash transfers to households in Niger that were affected by a severe drought.
Villages that received cash in this way, known as 'zap', saw benefits such as reduced costs of receiving cash, more diverse purchases and diets, and more types of crops. This, suggest the authors, is down to the zap mechanism encouraging different decision-making in the household, as well as due to lower costs and greater privacy.
They conclude that mobile transfers are a cost-effective way of transferring cash to remote rural populations, especially those with limited road and financial infrastructure, but caution that more research is needed on broader effects on the welfare of these populations.
Source: United Nations Environment Management Group | October 2011
This report outlines the first coherent strategy drawn up by the UN to address dryland management, taking into account environmental concerns and the well-being of dryland communities. It examines the relationship between drylands and climate change, food security and livelihoods, and highlights ways in which the UN is working to mainstream drylands into policymaking processes.
Climate change is already having an impact on crop yields and nutrition in areas that rely on rain-fed agriculture, according to the report, and these impacts will intensify by 2020 in parts of Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and Latin America. The impacts of climate change may be most pronounced in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, suggesting that those already vulnerable will be affected the most.
A key message is that the international community has an opportunity to address the underlying causes of dryland degradation. The report concludes that global cooperation must be intensified if the ten-year strategic plan of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification — whose aim is to tackle desertification and degradation — and the Millennium Development Goals are to be achieved.
Source: Institute of Development Studies (IDS)
This paper, published by the UK-based Institute of Development Studies, examines how disaster risks associated with climate change might impact electricity generation and energy planning — which is an emerging research and development agenda. The authors argue that energy researchers and policymakers have overlooked how changing disaster risks could affect electrical power production.
The report assesses the vulnerability of nuclear power as well as several other options for energy generation — including oil, natural gas, hydropower and bioenergy — and identifies the implications for energy policy and planning. It lists recommendations as to how policymakers could take into account the link between disaster risk management and low-carbon development to improve the capacity of developing countries to build resilience. Suggestions include completing environmental impact assessments when siting new power plants, establishing better links between energy, climate, and disaster policymakers, and planning climate change adaption strategies for electricity production.
Source: The International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI) The Earth Institute at Columbia University | 2011
This report highlights advances in the use of climate information to predict and prepare for climate-related natural disasters. It draws together 17 case studies that capture the current state of knowledge within the humanitarian community, and identifies research innovations. It presents the challenges and opportunities that disaster risk managers face in using climate science with a three step approach: indentifying the problem, developing tools, and taking action.
The results show that effective partnerships are crucial and can help to build the information needed for effective response. They also suggest how the use of this information can be improved — for example by focusing on immediate opportunities for action in countries and regions more likely to benefit. Recommendations also include developing realistic expectations, in order to maintain trust in the information and those who provide it, and encouraging national meteorological services to tailor their information to the problem at hand.
Source: ActionAid | 2010
This report outlines the local, practical experiences and lessons learned from the action research project Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction (CCA-DRR). The goal of the project was to help local people analyse their own vulnerability to the impacts of climate change and work collaboratively to explore better adaptation practices.
It ran from 2008 to 2010 in three areas of rural Bangladesh where natural hazards occur frequently: Sirajganj on the Jamuna River, which is vulnerable to floods; Naogaon in the north-west, vulnerable to drought; and Patuakhali on the coast, which is vulnerable to cyclones, sea-level rise and salinity intrusion.
The report includes an analysis of the strengths and weakness of activities that mobilise local communities to adapt to the impacts of climate change. It concludes with several recommendations for future policy and implementation, and highlights that local people are best placed to understand changes in their environment.
Source: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development | February 2010
This report analyses the lending activities of 22 microfinance institutions in Bangladesh and Nepal to assess the extent to which microfinancing can help the poor adapt to climate change. The authors find that microfinance is promoting some adaptation strategies such as crop diversification, better access to irrigation, and improved sanitation to reduce the risk of waterborne diseases. But they suggest that it could play a greater role in disaster preparedness and use of early warning systems.
Source: UN Economic Commission for Africa | April 2005
This report, prepared for the UN Economic Commission for Africa, reviews the status and prospects for remote sensing in Africa.
The authors argue that a real and immediate need exists for real-time remote sensing data to improve early warning, vulnerability assessment, mitigation, response and relief of disasters. This means, they say, supporting African countries to acquire data — including launching their own satellites, as well as improving bandwidth infrastructure and building capacity for analysing and processing geoinformation.
The authors highlight the continent's limited connectivity as a particularly challenging hurdle to overcome, as well as a lack of training and expertise in remote sensing. They briefly outline international donors' efforts to improve the situation and suggest improving collaboration and networking.
Source: IEEE Systems, Man and Cybernetics Conference | October 2005
This article describes how a network of sensors, linked by software and the Internet, can provide an automatic satellite-based surveillance system for disasters such as volcanoes, wildfires and flooding.
The system, or 'Sensorweb', uses data from low resolution, high frequency sensors to trigger imagery from high resolution instruments. The low-resolution data is collected regularly (twice a day or more) from instruments such as NASA's Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS).
Anomalies, such as hotspots in the case of fires and volcanoes or surface water for floods, are automatically detected. The SensorWeb then sends a request to a higher resolution satellite such as Hyperion, which is very sensitive in the infrared spectrum, to request data over the area of interest. These data can then provide disaster managers with early warnings of adverse events.