Geneva, 16 November 2017 - Vulnerable communities in Africa, the Pacific and Caribbean are now benefiting from improved early warning systems against extreme weather as part of an international drive to boost resilience and climate change adaptation.
According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) over 80 percent of the world’s 48 Least Developed Countries and many small island developing States have only a basic early warning system. Weather observation networks are inadequate in many African countries.
A ministerial event at the United Nations climate change conference, COP23, yesterday was presented with the first results from the Climate Risk and Early Warning Systems (CREWS) initiative launched by the French government at the Paris Agreement negotiations in 2015.
CREWS aims to mobilize US$100 million by 2020 and is designed to achieve a key target of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the global plan for reducing disaster losses, namely to “substantially increase the availability of and access to multi-hazard early warning systems and disaster risk information and assessments to people by 2030.”
“In the Paris Agreement era, it is unacceptable that populations are not forewarned of an impending weather disaster. Let us now reinforce support for CREWS, launched in Paris at COP21, to enable the most vulnerable to benefit from effective early warning systems,” said Mr. Nicolas Hulot, the French Minister for Ecology.
CREWS action in Niger, Burkina Faso and the Pacific Region in support of operational hydro-meteorological forecasts and early warning services was highlighted with a special focus on early warnings for agriculture and civil protection.
“In 2012 Niger suffered the worst floods for 40 years, and this year over 100 people have died due to flooding. In the past, information and warnings was not accessible to the people living in exposed neighbourhoods. We have received funding from CREWS in order to improve early warnings so we can inform people of the risks. We are really happy about this support,” said Laouan Magagi, Minister for Humanitarian Action and Disaster Management in Niger.
In the Pacific, CREWS is strengthening hydro-meteorological and early warning services for islands including Fiji, Cook Islands, Kiribati, Niue and Tuvalu, Samoa, Tonga, Palau, Nauru, Marshall Islands and Tokelau.
The CREWS initiative builds on existing activities and enables countries to access additional resources from the Green Climate Fund and other sources. In Mali, a CREWS grant of US$ 2.7 million to strengthen hydro-meteorological services leveraged a US$ 23 million grant from the Green Climate Fund.
The CREWS Steering Committee last week approved a new project, “Weather and Climate Early Warning System for Papua New Guinea.” It aims to improve control and maintenance of the existing drought and flood monitoring network and provide tailored early warnings for the agriculture sector and disaster managers, with an investment totaling US$1,650,000.
The Steering Committee also approved a project for the Caribbean to review the effectiveness of the early warning systems for the recent hurricanes Irma and Maria. It will also address immediate forecasting requirements of affected countries through WMO global and regional centres.
The CREWS is a coalition of Australia, France, Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Canada is aligning resources. It is being implemented by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the World Bank, and the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) with support of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR).
The new CREWS website is available here: http://www.crews-initiative.org/en
A video explaining the work of CREWS is available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V9fvBajiQF0