Joint Meetings for the Regional Validation of the National Model Multi-Hazard Early Warning Systems (MHEWS) Policy 12th – 14th, November, 2019 in Saint Lucia

Over the last 15 years in the Caribbean, there have been observed improvements in early warning systems. There are a growing number of tools, equipment and capacities and these vary both by hazard and in space. Despite the continued investment in Early Warning Systems (EWS) and notable progress in some regions, including the Caribbean (Collymore 2016; UNISDR 2015), movement towards integrated multi-hazard warning systems, though evident, may be characterized as slow (Collymore, 2016). One area requiring improvement is the governance framework for EWS, and specifically the absence of policy, noting the results of the application of the MHEWS Checklist in 4 CDEMA participating states1 and the priority areas for attention outlined in their national MHEWS roadmaps. Recent experiences with catastrophic hazards events, together with the availability of guidance for setting up EWS policy, including from Caribbean regional assessments and findings (such as the checklist reports) among others, present an optimum watershed opportunity to craft a model national MEWHS policy that is evidence-based and anchored in the CDM approach.

Under the “Strengthen integrated and cohesive preparedness capacity at a regional, national and community level in the Caribbean” Project funded by the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) (ECHO) which is implemented by United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), and the International Federation of the Red Cross and the Red Crescent (IFRC), two initiatives are underway to strengthen the governance framework for MHEWS in the region – the development of a national model MHEWS policy and adaptation guide that will allow for the first MHEWS policy through the adaptation of the policy for Saint Lucia and the formal establishment of the Regional Early Warning Systems Consortium (REWSC) that will provide oversight for MHEWS developments and monitoring in the region.

The purpose of EWS policies is to establish authority for system administration, control, access, maintenance and use of disaster alert, notification and warning systems. A critical priority for effective EWS is ‘better integration of early warning (and related disaster risk reduction and management) into development processes and public policies’ (EWIII, 2006). An integrated EWS policy would include, motivating long-term political commitment, developing legislation and institutional frameworks with defined roles and responsibilities and sustainable budgets, training, better linking of early warning in national economic planning, and optimising performance through standards and targets (EWSIII, 2006). These are particular gaps in CDEMA PS (Collymore, 2016; UNDP, 2017). EWS policy is critical to good governance as it is a matter for government to ensure public safety, the protection of human lives and protection of the nation’s resource base and productive assets. A multi-hazard approach to EWS policy increases efficiency, and consistency of warnings (UNDRR, 2017).

Date: Tuesday, November 12th, 2019

Location: Bay Gardens Hotel & Inn

12th November, 2019 - Regional Model National MHEWS Policy Validation Workshop

13th November, 2019 - Regional Consultation on the Draft Regional MHEWS Strategy

14th November, 2019 - Fourth Meeting of the Regional Early Warning System Consortium

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