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Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
TUE5.2: “Taking preparedness seriously” – Revisiting the gaps and challenges in linking early warning and timely response between community and government levels
Time: Tuesday, 28/Aug/2012: 2:40pm - 4:10pm
Session Chair: Stephan HUPPERTZ, Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)
Location: Flüela

Session organized by Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)


“Taking preparedness seriously” – Revisiting the gaps and challenges in linking early warning and timely response between community and government levels


Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), Germany, Federal Republic of

Early warning systems are vital to disaster preparedness and timely response and should be an integral component of any nation’s disaster risk reduction strategy.

Having received significant international attention over the past years , many multi-hazard early warning systems (EWSs) are in operation today, at best enabling the governments at national to local levels and the communities to take appropriate measures for saving lives and protecting assets and livelihoods in anticipation of a disaster. For such systems to be effective, UNISDR stresses that four elements must be in place: 1.) accurate hazard warning; 2.) an assessment of likely risks and impacts associated with the hazard; 3.) a timely and understandable communication of the warning; 4.) the capacity to act on the warning, particularly at the local level.

Considering this a lot of emphasis is put into transmitting real time information to institutionalized decision-makers and strengthening government disaster management services. On the other hand the dissemination of community-based DRR initiatives recognize the central importance of investing at community level to conduct risk mapping, design community based disaster preparedness plans, create local response capacities and generate a culture of resilience and safety.

However, especially at local level, an effective interaction between different national and local institutional levels and at risk communities still remains a key challenge. Feedback mechanisms to verify that warnings have reached the local authorities and at-risk communities are partly nonexistent. Early warnings are accurate but not linked with adequate communication and timely response mechanisms. Understandable messages that could help in taking sensible decisions do not reach all communities or households, leaving the most vulnerable population ill-prepared to cope with hazards.

Heavy investments have been made in setting up early warning mechanisms, strengthening disaster management capacities and promoting community-based DRR initiatives during the last years. Therefore, the objective is not to repeat the need for each individual instrument especially in times of climate change, but to take a very close look on how exactly a strong interaction between both the community and government levels can be facilitated and maintained in managing early warning and being prepared for an effective and timely response. What does a strong interaction between both the community and government levels mean when it comes to activities in regions with weak institutional structures and limited resources?

The aim of the session is to give participants a concrete idea about how the effective interaction between early warning and response mechanisms from the institutional and community based level can be put into practice and maintained.

By the end of the session, participants will have developed a better understanding of:

• how links are established and maintained

• what has worked / what has not worked and why

• what challenges occur and which experience exists in overcoming these

The overall approach is solution-oriented. Enough room will be given for discussions to foster peer-exchange.

Proposed session outline - Agenda

 Welcome and overview of agenda

 Introduction - German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)

 Setting the framework for linking early warning and timely response - Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)

 Good practices and lessons-learned from the regional to the local level

1) GITEWS - The German Contribution to the Indonesian Ocean Tsunami Early Warning System: Experiences and Lessons learned

Presenter: German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ) – Regional level

Main focus: The GFZ presents lessons learned from the German-Indonesian Tsunami Early Warning System for the Indian Ocean (GITEWS)

2) Integrated early warning and preventive response in Mozambique

Presenter: INGC Mozambique – National level:

Main focus: The DRM institute presents how a simple and effective low cost flood early warning system is linked to the national institutional level and elaborates on lessons-learned from the recent cyclone FUNSO that hit Mozambique in January 2012.

3) Low cost flood early warning systems based on linking local governments and communities in the Philippines

Presenter: PAGASA and GIZ, Philippines – Provincial level

Main focus: The presenter introduces the successfully established decentralized low cost flood early warning systems in the Eastern Visayas, Philippines and elaborates on the remaining challenges in scaling-up the system.

4) Bridging sustainably the last mile connectivity in India and Myanmar

Presenter: Malteser International, Myanmar and SSK Sahbhagi Shikshan Kendra India – District / Local level

Main focus: The presenter introduces the challenges and opportunities of linking inclusive social mobilization with early warning system on cyclone preparedness from a community perspective.

 Discussion/Q&A

 Closure

Bridging sustainably the last mile connectivity in India and Myanmar

Melgabal CAPISTRANO1, Nagendra SINGH2

1Malteser International, Germany; 2Sahbhagi Shikshan Kendra (SSK), India

In the End to End Early Warning System (EWS), the “last mile” connectivity remains underdeveloped partly due to a lack of understanding of community capacities and needs and partly as a result of it being promoted as an “add on” to national systems. Malteser International’s initiatives in India and Myanmar demonstrate the critical contribution that communities make within early-warning and response systems, and as drivers of them. Lessons learned show that the last mile can be bridged sustainably where communities and their vulnerabilities are taken as the starting point for local system development and strong links to national systems are established. Benefiting from the mobile EWS for floods in Uttar Pradesh (India) are 50 flood prone hamlets through a successful system based on auto-dialing software with engagement of the authorities responsible for district level early warning. It authenticates existing indigenous practices through a government managed system. The project has attempted to make the authority’s system more effi-cient and accountable and is based on the assumption that they will exercise their duty as envisaged in the national Disaster Management policy and will continue managing the EWS. To prepare villages prone to cyclones in Myanmar, Malteser International developed an innovative flag system using understandable warning messages derived from complicated hydro-meteorological data. By engaging women in EWS activities which were dominated traditionally by men, their decision making capacity was increased. Village government officials were included as members of the disaster management committees, which were organized to disseminate reliable warning information as they are credible members of the community. The EWS projects implemented form part of a wider DRR program, in which increasing community knowledge and inclusive social mobilization had been crucial. These initiatives have not been established as standalone activity and this is a critical factor in their success.

GITEWS - The German Contribution to the Indonesian Ocean Tsunami Early Warning system: experiences and lessons learned

Alexander RUDLOFF

German Research Centre for Geosciences - GFZ

The German initiative to design and construct an operational end-to-end tsunami early warning system for the Indian Ocean got underway directly after the 26 December 2004 tsunami in the region. First instruments as well as ocean monitoring sensors were already deployed a few months later in early 2005. During the entire technical installation phase, joint German-Indonesian academic and training workshops were held, in addition to training courses for maintenance proficiency. Moreover, capacity building and development measures were carried out at different stages. In conjunction with a PhD programme in Germany most capacity development processes were carried out in Indonesia comprising institutional consulting at national, regional and local levels as well as the development and implementation of tsunami preparedness measures and early warning mechanism in three selected pilot regions on Sumatra, Java and Bali. Seven years after commencement of this pioneering initiative, some milestones still remain to be taken. One important step was the coordinated handing over of the technical system to the Indonesian authorities in March 2011. Since then the warning centre operator is still accompanied by a project named PROTECTS, which supports the process of sustainability through intensive training, education and capacity development in Indonesia. Further support is given to the national disaster management agency BNPB and to provincial and local governments for integrating successful downstream measures. Through the GITEWS initiative and add-on funds, the warning and response capacity in place should reduce injury and fatalities in the case of future events. For further information please visit: http://www.gitews.org

Low cost flood early warning systems based on linking local governments and communities in the Philippines


1Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Service Administration (PAGASA); 2Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), Germany, Federal Republic of

Floods are one of the major natural hazards in the Philippines causing heavy damages and losses for municipalities and communities. Weather services monitor levels of major rivers and are able to warn of impending floods. However, such services are not available for minor rivers. One solution is the establishment of low cost community-based early warning systems. The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Service Administration (PAGASA) is responsible for weather forecasts for the country, and flood forecasts and warnings only to major river systems using sophisticated and automated devices. Unfortunately, smaller flood-prone river catchments are not covered. The Binahaan River Local Flood Early Warning System (LFEWS) covers a small basin area where the local population is involved in the monitoring, transmission, as well as in the early warning chain during flood events. Support for the establishment of the system was provided by Deutsche Gesellschaft fuer Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) in cooperation with PAGASA. It consists of rain and river level gauges, and an “operations centre (OC)” that process and analyze the data received into a warning message that is transmitted down to the community level. The system has an initial investment of 15,000 Euros with all running costs covered by the local government. Cost-benefit analysis on return of investment is estimated in about a year’s time. Key to sustainability of an LFEWS is embedded in the empowerment of the flood prone community and its local government to act on their own during times of flood event and having a sense of ownership of the system. At present, eight rivers basins in Region 8 are equipped with LFEWS and eight more are planned for 2013 in other parts of the Philippines.

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