COVID-19 and lessons from multi-hazard early warning systems

Rogers, David P.; Anderson-Berry, Linda; Bogdanova, Anna-Maria; Fleming, Gerald; Gitay, Habiba; Kahandawa, Suranga; Kootval, Haleh; Staudinger, Michael; Suwa, Makoto; Tsirkunov, Vladimir; Wang, Weibing

Having a common framework for early action to cope with complex disasters can make it easier for authorities and other stakeholders, including populations at risk, to understand the full spectrum of secondary and tertiary effects and thus where to focus preparedness efforts, and how best to provide more targeted warnings and response services. Meteorological and hydrological services world-wide have developed and implemented Multi-Hazard Early Warning Systems (MHEWS) for weather and climate related hazards that are now being expanded and transitioned towards Multi-Hazard Impact-based Early Warning Systems (MHIEWS). While it is still early days it is becoming clear that there are useful lessons from this approach in the COVID-19 global pandemic, and some valuable insight to be gained in risk communication, risk analysis and monitoring methodologies and approaches. The ability to understand and respond effectively to warnings through appropriate behaviours and actions is central to resilient societies and communities. By avoiding physical, societal and economic harm to the greatest extent possible, recovery from a hazard is likely to be faster, less costly and more complete.

MHIEWS can be a common approach for all hazards and therefore more likely to become a trusted tool that everyone can understand and use as a basic element of their national disaster risk management system. The interconnectedness of hazards and their impacts is a strong motivator for a common approach. One of the lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic and extreme weather events is the need to understand the vulnerability of individuals, communities and societies so as to provide reliable, targeted guidance and warnings and the willingness and capacity to prepare for a reasonable worst-case scenario based on informed long-term planning. Meteorology and hydrology are making good progress in this direction and the process can be readily applied to health and other sectors.

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Rogers, David P. / Anderson-Berry, Linda / Bogdanova, Anna-Maria / et al: COVID-19 and lessons from multi-hazard early warning systems. 2020. Copernicus Publications.

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