Photo: Dean Hochman
The two consecutive cyclones that have this year hit Mozambique and its neighbors have reminded us of the importance of early warning and using data to predict emergency events. This month I would therefore like to highlight some specific news on early warning and forecasting systems.
Staying on the topic of early warning, the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) at its ruling congress this month agreed to support a global aggregator system – its Global Multi-Hazard System - that rather than predict what the weather will be like, provides information on what impact the weather is going to have. This is an ambitious undertaking in data aggregation, and it is going to be interesting to see what comes out of it.
On the topic of forecasting of crisis situations, it is always an intriguing question how much we can use knowledge of the past to predict the future, and a vital one for humanitarians. The Good Enough Context Analysis for Rapid Response (GECARR) is a simple tool, developed by World Vision International and used actively by the START Network (for example, recently in Zimbabwe), which aims to make this possible, leading to more accurate planning of humanitarian responses to manmade events.
To round up the topic of early warning and forecasting, it is important to mention that while these systems can to an extent help predict crises, we also need to have the means to act. The UN’s Emergency Relief Coordinator this month provided a succinct summary of anticipatory financing in a speech in Berlin, well worth a read. In it he highlights good examples of anticipatory financing, as well as outlining modifications to the CERF mechanism to allow forecast-based funding.