Document / Publication
This article examines the obstacles and measures required to promote people-centered early warning systems (EWS), with a focus on the situation in Brazil. After assessing the institutional vulnerability of EWS, it analyzes some measures that can be taken to reduce institutional vulnerability, based on experiences with a participatory citizen science educational project that involved high school students. Some guidelines are developed for adopting a bottom-up approach towards achieving the four elements of EWS—risk knowledge, monitoring, communication of warnings, and response capability—with the help of school curricula.
Building national people-centered EWS is strongly recommended by the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR). Most of the scientific literature is critical of the conventional view of EWS as a linear model with a top-down approach, in which technological features are given more attention than human factors. It is argued that EWS should be people-centered, and used for risk prevention, with an emphasis on resilience, rather than only being triggered when a hazard occurs. However, both the UNISDR and the literature fail to say how a people-centered EWS should be built, and what steps are needed to put EWS into effect.