Featured Member: Amy Hilleboe

Amy Hilleboe is a Senior Technical Advisor for Disaster Risk Reduction at Catholic Relief Services. She has co-authored many resources and guides regarding community resilience and disaster risk reduction. 

This interview was conducted with Amy in July, 2016.


How did you first get involved in project-level early warning? What interests you about it?

Amy: I have been working on disaster risk reduction programs since 1998. My interest in early warning has always been to find ways to get ahead of disasters so that people can take appropriate action. It is clear that early warning does not reach people at all levels, so if early warning systems can be strengthened to reach vulnerable people in remote areas and if support can be provided to help people plan for disasters, we are likely to see a reduction in disaster impacts.



What role(s) do you see early warning playing in programming (e.g., what purpose(s) does project-level early warning serve)?

Governments and communities should ultimately be responsible for early warning systems. However, NGOs can play a critical role in facilitating, strengthening, and/or establishing early warning systems, understanding that these are end-to-end systems, so actors need to know how to manage them and potentially impacted communities need to have the capacity to act to save lives and livelihoods, both in slow and rapid onset disasters.



What are some of the challenges you’ve seen projects face when trying to incorporate early warning into their programming?

If the government and community don’t lead the early warning system initiatives, it will be difficult for the systems to continue after the projects end. It would be very interesting to return to areas where early warning systems were part of projects that ended several years ago to see what parts of the systems remain and why or why not.



What advice would you give to someone who is starting to set up a project-level early warning element in their food security or nutrition project?

Find similar projects that have been successful in implementing early warning systems for food security and nutrition and adopt and improve on those practices, documenting achievements, challenges, how challenges were addressed, and recommendations for improvement and sharing it widely.



What do you feel is the most valuable part of being a member of the Project-Level Early Warning Interest Group?

The Project-Level Early Warning Interest Group provides an opportunity to engage with a wide range of practitioners all working toward the same goal: to understand how to strengthen early warning, especially for food security and nutrition, which are impacted by a complexity of hazards for which solid area-specific early warning systems are often not in place. The Interest Group also provides a forum to learn from one another’s experiences.