Early warning systems are critical elements in disaster risk reduction, and are fully supported by the Government of Barbados.
Director of the Department of Emergency Management, Kerry Hinds, made this point, as she addressed a virtual Multi-Hazards Early Warning System (MHEWS) Validation workshop recently.
The Director said early warning systems would not only prevent and reduce hazard exposure and Barbados’ vulnerability to disasters, but would also increase the country’s level of preparedness, response and recovery, and strengthen its resilience.
“I think the events of last week and the last year, highlight the importance of our work in this area of improving the multi-hazard early warning systems,” she stated, noting the workshop provided the platform for Barbados to move forward with the requirements and articulation of a National Early Warning Policy.
Ms. Hinds said that Barbados made significant contributions to the process through it’s “active participation” in consultations at the national, regional and global level, and gained experience in developing its disaster risk reduction agenda.
“As a small island developing state, Barbados has a vested interest in ensuring that the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015 to 2030; the regional Comprehensive Disaster Management Strategy; and our own national level, Comprehensive Disaster Management Policy and Country Work Programme, builds on the achievements, priorities, and gaps of the past,” she pointed out.
The DEM head explained that improving early warning systems was identified at the global, regional, and national levels as a priority, and Barbados participated in capacity building initiatives designed at improving such systems.
These initiatives included but were not limited to, the Impact Forecasting Weather project, which was designed to give the public a better sense of what the weather will actually do.
It also involved the United Nations DIPECHO Early Warning Systems Project, which sought to empower communities, particularly those in Shermans, St. Lucy and Martins Bay, St. John, to become more knowledgeable about the types of hazards and vulnerabilities they faced.
Warning Systems Project, which focused primarily on improving awareness to natural hazards, through enhanced public education and awareness building initiatives, and reducing vulnerability to the natural hazards.
The Director added that the Climate Risk and Early Systems Project sought to improve the institutional framework for a multi-hazard warning systems at the national level by developing policy guidance.
“It is this…current institutional capacity-building undertaking that we have embarked on as a national system that will bring us one step closer to articulating recommendations for developing evidence-based policy, and a platform for progression in the area of early warning systems,” she stated.
Meanwhile, Deputy Executive Director of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency, Andria Grosvenor, said the multi-hazard environment which confronted the region and the world with cascading impacts was becoming the new norm.
Noting that the Caribbean region was listed amongst the countries that experienced impacts, from the top 10 disasters, over the last 20 years, she stressed that early warning systems saved lives.
“This is recognised in the original Comprehensive Disaster Management Strategy and Results Framework 2014 to 2024, which provides the guidance for disaster risk management in the Caribbean,” she stated.
However, Ms. Grosvenor acknowledged that the governmental priorities of development and the overall effectiveness of early warning systems at national and local levels varied widely.
She explained that according to the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, many countries which were at the highest risk, but with the least resources, remained highly challenged in building and sustaining their early warning systems from the national level down to the level of communities.