Multi-Hazard Early Warning Systems: A Checklist

WMO is pleased to announce the launching of the publication Multi-Hazard Early Warning Systems (MHEWS): A Checklist. This publication was prepared by the partners of the International Network for Multi-Hazard Early Warning Systems (IN-MHEWS) and is a key outcome of the first Multi-Hazard Early Warning Conference, which took place in Cancún, Mexico, in May 2017. It updates the original 2006 document Developing Early Warning Systems: A Checklist, developed as an outcome of the Third International Conference on Early Warning (EWC III). Through the lens of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction2015-2030, the MHEWS Checklist incorporates the acknowledged benefits of multi-hazard early warnings systems, disaster risk information and enhanced risk assessments. It is anticipated that this Checklist will be further updated as technology, advances in multi-hazard early warning systems and feedback from the users are received.

Early warning is a major element of disaster risk reduction and 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, effectively disseminate messages and warnings, and ensure that there is a constant state of preparedness and that early action is enabled. The MHEWS Checklist provides a simple reference list of the main components and actions for developing or evaluating early warning systems, which can easily be followed by national governments, community organizations and partners institutions within and across all sectors. It is not intended to be a comprehensive design manual, but a practical, non-technical reference tool to ensure that the major elements of an effective early warning system are in place.

The Sendai Framework recognizes the benefits of multi-hazard early warning systems and enshrines them in one of its seven global targets, notably target (g): “Substantially increase the availability of and access to multi-hazard early warning systems and disaster risk information and assessments to the people by 2030.” The Framework urges a paradigm shift in the way risk information is developed, assessed and used in multi-hazard early warning systems, disaster risk reduction strategies as well as in government policies.

First to adapt MHEWS Checklist

The Caribbean is the first region to adopt, and adapt, the MHEWS Checklist. The Secretariat of the Climate Risks and Early Warning Systems (CREWS) Initiative shared the proposed MHEWS Checklist with the region during discussions on potential partnership (between the WMO-led “Lessons Learned on Early Warning Systems following the Caribbean 2017 Hurricane Season” project and the Disaster Preparedness ECHO programme (DIPECHO) funded “Strengthened Integrated Early Warning Systems for more effective disaster risk reduction in the Caribbean through knowledge and tool transfer” initiative).

The Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) – along with its project partners, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC) – is now in the process of developing an Early Warning Systems Checklist to generate baseline information in five countries: Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Saint Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines.

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