Science for Humanitarian Emergencies and Resilience (SHEAR) scoping study: Annex 2 - The current status of early warning systems and risk assessments in Africa, the Caribbean and South Asia - A literature review

Abstract

The report forms part of the Science for Humanitarian Emergencies and Resilience (SHEAR) scoping study, which aims to provide DFID with evidence-based recommendations on future research priorities for risk assessments and early warning systems. The focus is on weather-related hazards (i.e. cyclones, floods, droughts and landslides) for humanitarian and development purposes in low-income countries across Africa, South Asia and the Caribbean.

Overall 190 papers, reports and online resources were reviewed with a fairly even coverage across each region and on early warning systems, risk assessments and analytical tools, and on how information is used to inform decision making. International data sets show that the total numbers of people affected by weather related emergencies and disasters are greatest in South Asia but the Caribbean islands stand out as having particularly high ‘risks to people’ and economic damage from hurricanes and flooding per capita. Floods and droughts are important in Africa and although landslide risks affect fewer people they are locally important in Nepal, India and in some Caribbean islands.

Early warning systems require several components, i.e. risk knowledge, monitoring and warning systems, dissemination and communication and response capacity. A weakness or breakdown in any one part of an early warning system can result in its failure. The report’s findings suggest a very mixed picture with good examples and continued progress on early warning systems in parts of South Asia and the Caribbean but far less progress on national risk assessments and a lack of integration between warning systems and risk assessment tools.

The main findings on risk assessments are more limited because, with few exceptions, there was a lack of good examples of detailed, quantitative risk assessments for humanitarian purposes in Africa, the Caribbean and South Asia.

The review highlights specific opportunities to improve both early warning systems and risk assessments in each region, particularly with regards to (i) flood forecasting and the communication of drought forecasts in Africa (ii) drought and flood forecasting in the Caribbean and (iii) early warning systems for landslides in Nepal, an important hazard in terms of fatalities.

This report has been produced by HR Wallingford Ltd for Evidence on Demand with the assistance of the UK Department for International Development (DFID) contracted through the Climate, Environment, Infrastructure and Livelihoods Professional Evidence and Applied Knowledge Services (CEIL PEAKS) programme, jointly managed by HTSPE Limited and IMC Worldwide Limited.

Citation

Lumbroso, D.; Rance, J.; Pearce, G.; Brown, E.; Wade, S. Science for Humanitarian Emergencies and Resilience (SHEAR) scoping study: Annex 2 - The current status of early warning systems and risk assessments in Africa, the Caribbean and South Asia - A literature review. Evidence on Demand, UK (2013) iii + 45 pp. [DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.12774/eod_cr.june2014.lumbrosorance]

Science for Humanitarian Emergencies and Resilience (SHEAR) scoping study: Annex 2 - The current status of early warning systems and risk assessments in Africa, the Caribbean and South Asia - A literature review

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