People-centred Early Warning Systems are vital to reduce disaster risk

10 May 2017

Shristi Vaidya, Disaster Risk Researcher, Delta Innovation BV

We often talk about communication and Early Warning Systems (EWS), the development of which normally moves in a top-down manner, from global to regional to national. However, what could we learn if we were to reverse engineer this process? Could we enhance sustainability and create a people-centred process developed in partnership with communities to bring about genuine and sustainable change?

This important issue will be under discussion at the upcoming 2017 Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction. There, side event organised by Deltares jointly with the Met office, the UK’s national meteorological service, aims to showcase practices in EWS design which have developed an understanding of local needs, and harnessed local (indigenous) knowledge to bring often talked about ‘end users’ into the heart of communications and Early Warning System design.

Our speakers will present case studies from Africa and South Asia to convey the thoughts and findings from the communities themselves and will highlight the benefits and challenges of this work. They will further discuss how we have worked in partnership with local communities to deliver genuine community-focused early warning systems, underpinned by national infrastructure, which in turn harness the power of global and regional information. To make the event more interactive, the floor will be open for discussions, to debate, challenge, and more importantly, to learn.

At global, regional and national levels, Priority for Action (4) of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction clearly articulates the need to ‘maintain and strengthen’ early warning systems and to ‘tailor them to the needs of the users’. This side event will therefore bring the user perspective into this arena. Our objective is to reinforce the importance, as stated through the Sendai Framework, of putting communities first to deliver sustainable, efficient and effective global, regional, national and local early warning systems.

Please visit our side event on 24th May 2017 from 13:30 to 14:30 in the Sunrise 9 room at the Global Platform to learn more from the people working on the ground to ensure that the local needs are understood, incorporated and addressed in the implementation of people-centred EWS.

Shristi Vaidya works at Deltares, Delft as a disaster risk researcher and specialises in topics related to flood early warning, risk communication, risk assessment, and stakeholder engagement. She completed her Masters degree in Flood Risk Management in 2013 as an Erasmus Mundus scholar, led by IHE-Delft. Her professional experiences include working in Nepal, USA and Tanzania. Shristi is also an active volunteer at the Water Youth Network and the United Nations Major Group of Children and Youth, where she supports youth engagement and capacity building on disaster risk reduction.

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