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How to build an early warning system

Effective early warning system should be people-centered which defines communication system that reaches the people at risk.

Source: Practical Action

People-centered early warnings need to be

  • clearly understood by  people;
  • easily and readily accessible to people;
  • timely; and
  • tied to response actions to be taken by the people in advance of, during, and after the event.

It is important to analyze and recognize the vulnerabilities of different groups based on culture, gender and other relevant characteristics to develop effective Early Warning System. The information and early warning system should meet the needs of every group of the vulnerable community.

An effective early warning system comprises of four interrelated elements . Strong linkage between the elements with effective communication channel results in successful early warning system.

  • Risk Knowledge
  • Monitoring and EW Services
  • Dissemination and communication
  • Response Capability

Source: Practical Action

Systematic collection and analysis of data is necessary for the risk assessment.The impact of the hazard depends upon the social, geographic, economic and political processes.

The damage and losses caused by the events in the past would be helpful to assess the impact of hazard and vulnerability of the community to the hazard. Information on the coping capacity and resources will be useful for the communities to prepare, respond and bounce back after disaster.Mapping(social and resource map, accessibility maps and hazards and vulnerable maps, seasonal calendar, transect walk, direct observation, semi-structured interviews and ranking VCA tools can be used.

Source: Practical Action

Warning services is the fundamental of early warning system .

A scientific basis for predicting disastrous event and regular monitoring is required to generate timely and accurate warning information. In cases where monitoring system already exist, appropriate modification could be made after assessing the area of modification and in the area where monitoring system is unavailable, new system needs to be installed.

While assessing the devices to be used for monitoring system, the cost- effectiveness, technology and the possibilities of replacement and maintenance at the local level has to be considered. Preferences should be given to local and simple technology.

The community has to be made aware of the monitoring system and the capacity has to be increased based on the capacity need assessment through training, awareness campaign, posters, pamphlets etc.

Source: Practical Action

Early warning system becomes effective only if they are disseminated and communicated well so as to ensure that the communities are warned by the upcoming hazardous event. It is necessary for the information to be well understood, reliable and consistent across different types of warning.

It could be carried out through training, awareness raising through posters, pamphlets, videos, street, drama, door to door, exposure visit, equipping with required facilities.The efficiency of the communication system during both the drills and actual events has to be analyzed and faults needs to be addressed in order to ensure preparedness of the system.

Telephones, Wireless radios, Sirens (hand operated), Colored flags/light, Hand mikes, FM radio and television stations can be used for communication and dissemination.

Community require a concrete plan to act upon during the time of event to know how to respond during disaster and which will provide the community guide to delineate roles and responsibilities involving all the related stakeholders. The plan has to be shared among the communities and should be made aware of each responsibility.

Along with this, early warning system has to be included in the policies for disaster mitigation to achieve goal of disaster resilient community.

The effects of the disaster can be considerably reduced by integration of disaster mitigation strategies into the planning and policies of the nation. Early warning system should be an element of international, national and local strategies and programs for disaster risk reduction which has to be supported by relevant legislation.

For more information, please visit http://www.unisdr.org/2006/ppew/

You may also refer to Early Warning