Friday, 19 December 2014
Zinta Amanda Zommers, ASHA MUTENYO Sitati and Mushfig Habilov, United Nations Environment Programme, Nairobi, Kenya
Early warning systems are a tool with which to minimize risks posed by climate related hazards. Although great strides have been made in developing early warning systems most deal with one hazard, only provide short-term warnings and do not reach the most vulnerable. This presentation will review research results of the United Nations Environment Programme’s CLIM-WARN project. The project seeks to identify how governments can better communicate risks by designing multi-hazard early warning systems that deliver actionable warnings across timescales. Household surveys and focus group discussions were conducted in 36 communities in Kenya, Ghana and Burkina Faso in order to identify relevant climate related hazards, current response strategies and early warning needs. Preliminary results show significant variability in both risks and needs within and between countries. For instance, floods are more frequent in rural western parts of Kenya. Droughts are frequent in the north while populations in urban areas face a range of hazards - floods, droughts, disease outbreaks - that sometimes occur simultaneously. The majority of the rural population, especially women, the disabled and the elderly, do not have access to modern media such as radio, television, or internet. While 55% of rural populace never watches television, 64% of urban respondents watch television on a daily basis. Communities have different concepts of how to design warning systems. It will be a challenge for national governments to create systems that accommodate such diversity yet provide standard quality of service to all. There is a need for flexible and forward-looking early warning systems that deliver broader information about risks. Information disseminated through the system could not only include details of hazards, but also long-term adaptation options, general education, and health information, thus increasingly both capabilities and response options.