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It is essential that people understand their risks, respect the national warning service and know how to react to the warning messages. Education and preparedness programmes play a key role. It is also essential that disaster management plans include evacuation strategies that are well practiced and tested. People should be well informed on options for safe behaviour to reduce risks and protect their health, know available evacuation routes and safe areas and know how best to avoid damage to and loss of property.
Continuous monitoring of hazard parameters and their precursors (when available for a particular hazard) is essential to generate accurate warnings in a timely fashion that allow sufficient time for the affected community or communities to enact their disaster management plans appropriate for that hazard. The systems used for detection and monitoring, which could be automated, should allow for strict quality control of the data under international standards when these are available.
Risks arise from the combination of hazards, exposure of people and assets to the hazards and their vulnerabilities and coping capacities at a particular location. Assessments of these risks require systematic collection and analysis of data and should consider the dynamics and compounding impacts of hazards coupled with vulnerabilities resulting from unplanned urbanization, changes in rural land use, environmental degradation and climate change. The level of risk can change depending on the actual impacts and consequences of hazards.
Early warning is a major element of disaster risk reduction. It can prevent loss of life and reduce the economic and material impacts of hazardous events including disasters. To be effective, early warning systems need to actively involve the people and communities at risk from a range of hazards, facilitate public education and awareness of risks, disseminate messages and warnings efficiently and ensure that there is a constant state of preparedness and that early action is enabled.
Water stress, water-related hazards and water quality pose increasing challenges to modern society. And yet, the capacity to monitor and manage this vital resource is fragmented and inadequate. Billions of people around the world also feel the impact of climate change through water.