Early Warning, Early Action

Early warning; early action.  Not just doing things faster, but doing things differently.

This three-country research and analysis project, led by IFRC in partnership with Oxfam, Save the Children FAO and WFP, wanted to understand if it was possible to respond differently to the warning systems.  Rather than provide humanitarian assistance sooner to those affected by drought and food insecurity, was it not possible to avoid some of the impacts altogether?

By combining effective early warning with proven approaches to water and livestock management in the arid and semi-arid lands (ASALs) in particular, could the worst effects of drought be avoided?  And what needed to be in place for this to happen?

EWEA systemThe report argues that it is possible, but it requires a number of components to be in place and engaged with each other:

  • coordination at the country level, the national platform in the diagram above;
  • a proven early warning system, with reasonable predictive capacity;
  • agreed objective triggers for action;
  • funding arrangement put in place that respond to the triggers in predictable ways;
  • contingency plans supported by surge models; and
  • effective, proven strategies to reduce exposure to risk once the warning is in place.

Key characteristics of a working system would include transparency in decision making and funding mechanisms, effective distinction between chronic and acute situations, and nuanced situation and context analysis that recognises the rapid pace of change for many pastoralist communities in the Horn of Africa.

A substantial report was produced for the steering committee for the work, which was published in edited form here.

Those with good eyesight might pick their way through this expanded diagram of the system overall – click on the diagram for a better view.


EWEA system 300dpi

Categories: Guidance Research
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