RISK MANAGEMENT: EARLY WARNING, DROUGHT CYCLES, AND OTHER KEY TOOLS FOR PRACTITIONERS
Monday, 18 November, 2013
Presenters: Idriss Leko, Senior Agriculture/Livelihoods Manager, Sawki Development Food Aid Program, Mercy Corps, Niger; Abdou Karim Ouédraogo, Regional Food Security Specialist, Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS Net), West Africa; Clare Oxby, Researcher; Moderator: Tom Remington, Agriculture Advisor for Africa, Catholic Relief Services
Natural disasters, such as droughts and floods, as well as transboundary animal diseases, economic crises and civil conflicts adversely affect many parts of Africa, including West Africa and the Sahel. Typically, natural disasters were viewed as one off catastrophes requiring emergency responses. More recently, it has become increasingly accepted that natural disasters, especially drought, are often normal occurrences that can be planned for. Early warning systems and information, linked to pre-planned adaptive change at the project and community level, can play a critical role in helping governments, NGOs, communities and households prepare for and reduce the negative consequences of these events.
In this panel session, speakers discussed regional, national and community early warning systems, providing insights into what has worked well, lessons learned and new directions, as well as the application of the Drought Cycle Management model as a tool for adaptive programming and increased resilience.
One presenter discussed FEWS Net, which is designed to provide relevant and impartial information on food security. FEWS Net’s approach includes converging evidence, analyzing evidence, developing the scenario, comparing results, and making an effective decision. FEWS Net partners with local governments and other organizations to disseminate information.
Another tool discussed was the SCAP/RU Project, which aims to help vulnerable communities recover from shock and stress. This early warning system started in national government and moved to local communities, but more work needs to be done on communication at the community level. Capacity building within local communities is necessary to enable people to use the tools available. Other constraints include lack of literacy in the communities and lack of volunteers.
Lastly, the Drought Cycle Management Model is a tool for project staff to better understand which activities should be implemented during the different phases of a drought.