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Building towards people-centric early warning systems in the Caribbean

21 November 2018


An initiative to strengthen multi-hazard early warning systems in the Caribbean was launched on November 20 during the dry season Caribbean Climate Forum (CariCOF) meeting held in Accra Hotel in Hastings, Barbados.

The Climate Risk and Early Warning System (CREWS) project entitled “Strengthening Hydro-Meteorological and Early Warning Services in the Caribbean” will be jointly implemented by the World Bank, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) in close collaboration with the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) and the Caribbean Institute of Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH).

Honorable Edmund Hinkson, Minister of Home Affairs Barbados highlighted that “it is undeniable that early warning systems are well-recognized as critical life-saving disaster risk reduction tools.” Hinkson endorsed the project and lauded its multifaceted partnership that “brings the comparative advantage of all agencies together in consultation with regional partners.” The project contributes to achieve the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, on its Target G: stablishing the substantially increase on the availability of and access to multihazard early warning systems and disaster risk information and assessments to people by 2030.

The World Bank will lead the development of a regional strategy to strengthen early warning and hydrometeorological services, and support the piloting of high priority national activities. Meanwhile, WMO will lead the institutional strengthening and increased capacity for early warning and hydromet services. UNISDR will ensure gender mainstreaming and a focus on vulnerable populations throughout the project’s implementation. This project aims to build community resilience by establishing a sustainable, gender-inclusive and cascading early warning system for the region.  

Minister Hinkson acknowledged, as well, that while the capacity of the national agencies was becoming stronger, most of them were still struggling with limited financial and human resources which resulted in the limited services they provided.

Ronald Jackson, Executive Director of the CDEMA, advocated for support to small islands development and investment in national institutions, taking into consideration people with disabilities. Sustainability is a critical aspect of the investments, as Jackson mentioned, “all of what we do will have an impact at community level. If we do not look at national level to sustain our current investments, they might not be here ten years from now.”

David Farrell, Principal of the CIMH encouraged a gender informed early warning systems and stated that “communication is essential to leverage and extend what we have done so far and CREWS should build on our vision of what we think the Caribbean region can achieve.”

Participants in the launch included 65 representatives from meteorological, hydrological, disaster risk management and priority sectors, as well as key expert institutions and partner agencies from the Caribbean region.

The debates during the Launch of CREWS Caribbean Regional Early Warning Systems project reminded that high quality forecasts with timely warnings delivered to vulnerable communities and translated into preventive actions helped save many lives and reduced economic losses in the Caribbean Region during recent hurricanes seasons.

Hurricanes Floods