Enabling sustainability for Early Warning Systems in the Caribbean

The long-term sustainability of Early Warning Systems (EWS) is a challenge for developing countries. WMO has coordinated various activities to address the ownership of early warning systems, tools and frameworks implemented under the Climate Risk and Early Warning Systems (CREWS) Caribbean project. WMO aims to engage Governments to continuously allocate resources in their national budget for the maintenance and sustainability of EWS, which requires the establishment of a legal framework, comprehensive planning processes, national dialogues and coordination on technical matters. Inter-institutional coordination and engagement is key, requiring at the very minimum National Meteorological Services and Hydrological Services (NMHSs) and National Offices for Disaster Risk Management.

The CREWS Caribbean project included many activities in this area, only a few can be highlighted here:

  • Preparation of one Model Meteorological Bill for subsequent adoption in nine of participating countries  – Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, St Kitts and Nevis, and St Vincent and the Grenadines, all members of the 16-state Caribbean Meteorological Organization (CMO) – through extensive consultation and expert advice.
  • Preparation of 10 National Strategic Plans and a Framework for Weather, Water and Climate Services as result of several inter-institutional meetings and dialogue in Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Kitts & Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Turks and Caicos.
  • National workshops on the implementation of the Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) in Belize and Turks and Caicos
  • Community Based Flood Management Activities in Antigua and Barbuda and Trinidad and Tobago
Dutch_Caribbean_Nature_Alliance© Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance

First the fundamental legal structures were set-up, then there was operational planning, followed by concrete national implementation activities while the cohesion and coordination between institutions was increased. Pilot activities to demonstrate connection to the last mile were the final step. The activities were aligned with Member’s needs, WMO strategic objectives and aimed to create synergies between the implementation partners – WMO, United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) and the World Bank.

The endorsement of the Model Meteorological Bill and the National Strategic Plans and Framework by the CMO members strengthened the hydrometeorological services. The documents provide guidance to the Governments on the essential requirements for NMHSs to operate and helps WMO and its partners to define priority need and requirements for modernization and to coordinating implementation in a coherent manner.

The most recent activities were two workshops on Implementing CAP, the first in Belize on 4-5 May and the other in Turks and Caicos on 9-10 May. The workshops combined specific technical training with discussion and planning sessions.  Both workshops yielded a draft Action Plans and arrangements for adopting CAP. Following a high-level dialogue at the Turks and Caicos workshop, Deputy Premier Erwin Jay Saunders endorsed the Strategic Plan for the National Weather Service – prepared with CREWS Caribbean support – and provided specific indications of the national financial resources for further implementation.

CREWS Caribbean activities demonstrate that the sustainability challenge can be addressed by considering the political, legal, institutional and operational issues down to the “last mile” where the strongest impact is evident. The process will be replicated in the second phase of CREWS Caribbean, which was approved by the CREWS Steering Committee in June. The US$ 7 million project will be implemented in collaboration with the UNDRR and will build on achievements of the CREWS Caribbean Phase I project. It will further close existing gaps and address the needs of Members to strengthen multi-hazard warning systems in the Caribbean.

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