UN identifies 5 key areas to boost EWS efficiency
According to UN General Secretary Antonio Guterres, an average of 24 million people every year are pushed to poverty by disasters, and many more leave their homes. He said that if these people continue to struggle to rebuild and recover what they have lost, they will never reach the SDG (Sustainable Development) Agenda 2030.
The UN has always underscored the value of prevention strategies, especially now with the climate change turbo-charging natural events. Building climate and disaster resilience are becoming more critical to any society to reduce the massive risk and losses from disasters.
To help all society sectors improve their early warning systems (EWS), the UN released the report, “Five Approaches to Build Functional Early Warning Systems”.
The report is divided into two parts. The first part lays the legal and institutional framework for the Early Warning Systems. It presents a history of the early warning system and disaster risk reduction strategies and how disasters like Tsunamis have pushed for global efforts to establish a robust EWS.
The first part also described the Early Warning Systems and discussed its four main elements: Risk Knowlege, Monitoring and Warning Services, Dissemination and Communication, and Response Capabilities.
The second part of the report presents and describes the challenge and obstacles to an efficient EWS, especially in developing countries. The report analysed several global and regional projects, identified five key areas where obstacles and challenges typically lie, and the solutions to overcome them.
These five key areas identified for targeted interventions are the following:
Institutional and legal capacity development.
Gaps or inefficiencies in legal, institutional and coordination frameworks can hinder the operation of EWS or lead to confusion. The report offers suggestions to overcome this challenge.
Thanks to technology advancements, all the elements of EWS are easily implemented from monitoring, forecasting, and warning dissemination. Yet, many developing countries still lack the necessary technology infrastructure and capabilities.
Community outreach and community-based solutions.
Local and political context also plays a crucial role in implementing EWS. While engaging and empowering the community also presents some linguistic and cultural barriers. Hence, to overcome these challenges content and presentation of warnings needs to be customised or contextualise to fit the area where the EWS will be used.
For example, prioritising locally appropriate solutions, involving target communities when designing Early Warning System plans, using relevant media and messaging styles to address the target audience, etc.
Private sector engagement.
The private sector is the ideal advocate for resilient thinking because of its direct relationship with consumers, customers, and supplier. They can influence the public to demand risk-sensitive produce and services.
Bolstering emergency response and disaster resilience is also within the private sectors’ interest because of economic obligation and humanitarian responsibility. Statistic would show that disasters are affecting livelihoods, businesses essentials like power and transportation infrastructure.
As such, private sectors such as insurance companies have an obvious interest in reducing the number of disaster-related incidents.
International co-operation and data-sharing.
The number of national early warning systems is almost equal to the number of countries. They are also easily managed by each country because it is tailored to their needs and are operated under mandated governmental agencies.
Global or regional warning systems are just a few but plays a vital role because they cover larger areas that feed on conditions in more than one country.
Sharing expertise and merging between national, regional, and global EWS increases the possibility of coordinating joint response operation and spreading information faster to many people.
The solutions and examples presented in the report show that setting up an early warning system is a long and complex process and requires attention to each of its element because EWS is only as effective as its weakest components.
In acknowledging the EWS complexity, the report can be useful in two ways.
- First, to understand which elements of the EWS need to be implemented or required to make the system work.
- Second, to identify specific strategies that have worked successfully elsewhere.
The report is also based on the ethos of the challenge-solution approach, or on the premise that it is always possible to find a solution for every challenge.