April 2010

Disaster Risk reduction and Early Warning Systems development in Regional Association IV


As part of the WMO DRR programme implementation strategy and in coordination with WMO Regional Association IV, the “Training and Coordination Workshop on Multi-Hazard Early Warning Systems (MHEWS) with Focus on Institutional Partnerships”, was held on 22-26 March 2010 in San Jose, Costa Rica. The workshop brought together, for the first time, all stakeholders involved in DRR in Central America and the Caribbean, including senior executives from 36 National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHS), directors of 33 National Disaster Risk Management (DRM) agencies, and regional and international agencies as well as the development and funding partners supporting Early Warning Systems (EWS) in the region.

This workshop was co-sponsored by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), 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 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) and hosted by WMO in collaboration with the Instituto Meteorológico Nacional and the Comisión Nacional de Prevención de Riesgos y Atención de Emergencias of Costa Rica.  

Specific objectives of the workshop were to: (i) share good practices in EWS, experiences and lessons learnt from five countries (Cuba, France mainland and West indies, Italy, China/Shanghai and USA) by experts from DRM Agencies and NMHS; (ii) discuss regional initiatives in support of disaster risk reduction and particularly EWS; (iii) explore national capacities and gaps related to planning, legislative, institutional and operational aspects of EWS of countries in the region; and (iv) identify priorities for the development of national EWS and opportunities for regional cooperation. 

  • Building on discussions on good practices in EWS and regional initiatives in both Central America and the Caribbean, the participants identified and developed clear priorities of action for regional cooperation in MHEWS for both sub-regions in RA IV with national EWS development. Through interactive working groups, the participants produced concrete recommendations related to the following components: (i) governance and legal framework; (ii) risk assessment regional programming; (iii) strengthening of operational forecasting capacities with a multi-hazard approach; (iv) harmonization of watch and warnings; and (v) service delivery and public outreach programmes for Hydrometeorological information and warnings.

Following the MHEWS training workshop, a half-day coordination meeting was also held on 26 March 2010 with regional and international agencies as well as the development and funding partners where they agreed to develop a more coordinated approach for the development and funding of regional initiatives in DRR and EWS. The meeting also expressed the willingness in supporting the recommendations and initiatives that emerged from the MHEWS training workshop and the participants confirmed their interest in follow-up activities. Specifically, as next steps,

  • A demonstration project in MHEWS for hydro-meteorological hazards will be implemented in Central America for three pilot countries including Costa Rica, El Salvador and Nicaragua,  to demonstrate the benefits of operational cooperation between the NMHSs and DRM Agencies building on a cooperation framework within and across the pilot countries, with support from the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) of the World Bank, the United States NOAA-NWS in cooperation with USAID/OFDA and other donors;
  • A regional cooperation programme in MHEWS will be developed for all countries in the Caribbean building on regional capacities, initiatives and agencies involved in DRR and EWS, and engaging WMO Regional Association IV, coordinated capacity development support from WMO Technical Programmes and all other relevant external partners supporting DRR and EWS in the region.  It is aimed that this programme be developed through extensive consultation and presented to the region for endorsement by end of 2010.

This coordinated approach of DRR programme building from the MHEWS training workshop and coordination meeting provides a model for coordinated DRR programme development and implementation in other WMO regions and is fully aligned with the strategy of WMO DRR programme to link training with regional development projects. Similar approach is currently underway in South-East Asia

All materials, documents, presentations and the final reports of the MHEWS Training Workshop and the Coordination Meeting are available on the workshop’s website.

For more information, please contact Dr Maryam Golnaraghi, Chief of WMO Disaster Risk Reduction programme at MGolnaraghi[at]wmo.int.

group photo



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