Press Release No. 881
For use of the information media
Central America and the Caribbean to Strengthen Cooperation for Reducing Risks of Natural Disasters (22 – 25 March, San José, Costa Rica)
Geneva, 22 March 2010 (WMO) – The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) is bringing together, for the first time, all stakeholders involved in reducing impacts of extreme weather and water events in Central America and the Caribbean. The Multi-hazard early warning system workshop, which will take place from 22 to 25 March in San José, Costa Rica, will bring together senior executives from the National Disaster Risk Management agencies, National Meteorological and Hydrological Services, and all agencies supporting early warning systems in the region. The purpose is to enhance early warning system capacities for saving lives by fostering cooperation among all those involved and linking to latest developments in forecasting.
Participants in the workshop will build on experiences and good practices in the region and beyond to produce a plan of action for strengthening early warning systems. Special attention will also be given to the development of the early warning system for Haiti and the rebuilding of its National Meteorological Service.
Early warning systems save lives. Statistics show that although over the last 50 years economic losses linked to extreme hydro-meteorological events have increased nearly 50 times, however, loss of life caused by these hazards has decreased significantly. This has been attributed to linking warnings from monitoring and forecasting of hydro-meteorological hazards to effective emergency preparedness, especially in most vulnerable countries.
Between 1980 and 2007, globally, nearly 90% of disasters related to natural hazards, 70% of casualties and 75% of economic losses were caused by meteorological, hydrological and climate related hazards such as tropical cyclones and storm surges, floods, droughts, and extreme temperature. In Central America and the Caribbean, during the same period, 91% of disasters, 70% of casualties and 91% of economic losses have been attributed to those hazards.
A number of countries including China, Cuba, France, Italy and the United States of America, will share their good practices in early warning systems during the workshop.
“Early warning systems require a strong coordination among all agencies involved to ensure that information and warnings are provided in a timely fashion and efficiently in support of emergency preparedness and response planning. Such cooperation has proved instrumental in saving of lives and livelihoods”, says Michel Jarraud, Secretary-General of WMO.
The WMO workshop is co-hosted by the Instituto Meteorológico Nacional and the Comisión Nacional de Prevención de Riesgos y Atención de Emergencias of Costa Rica. It is organized with the support of the United States National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration - National Weather Service (NOAA-NWS), the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Risk Reduction (UN -ISDR), the United Nation Development Programme (UNDP), the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent (IFRC), the World Bank, El Centro de Coordinación para la Prevención de los Desastres Naturales en América Central (CEPREDENAC), and the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA).
Special session on Haiti
A special session will be devoted to the implementation of the Haiti warning system for the 2010 rainy and hurricane season, and the longer-term multi-hazard early warning system development for the country. Meteorological Services of Haiti were destroyed by the earthquake which devastated the country on 12 January 2010.
WMO is working with Haiti and countries in the region to ensure availability of meteorological and hydrological information during the upcoming rainy and hurricane seasons, and to support the longer-term development of the National Meteorological Services.
A WMO fact sheet explains the urgent need for restoring meteorological capacities in Haiti.
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