Menu ENN Search

Early warning early action: Mechanisms for rapid decision making

Author: International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Save the Children, Oxfam, FAO, WFP
Year: 2014
Resource type: Report

Drought preparedness and response in the arid and semi-arid lands  of Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda, and in the East Africa Region

Humanitarian and development partners alike have shown commitment to doing things differentlyinvesting in research to better understand how to manage risks rather than crises. But is this change enough to produce a substantially different outcome next time? And if not, what else needs to be done and how?

The Early Warning Early Action in East Africa: mechanisms for rapid decision making” research project led by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), in partnership with Oxfam, Save the Children, FAO and WFP, seeks to answer these questions and to provide key components of an effective system to make the case for further investment. It builds on a number of initiatives, reports and documents.

The operational research took the form of a literature review and interviews with a large number of stakeholders and practitioners in Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia to take stock of progress, and to identify the characteristics of a well-functioning government-led Early Warning Early Action (EW EA) system. It was guided by a diverse Steering Committee, which included representatives of IGAD and national governments, donors, Red Cross Societies, UN agencies and NGOs.

Early action means ‘different’, not just ‘earlier’. The early actions being discussed here are not traditional humanitarian activities, although they need to be undertaken with a humanitarian sense of urgency. Indeed, any ‘humanitarian’ response to a slow-onset disaster is a late response. Early action is a paradigm shift for people and agencies which have grown accustomed to equating humanitarian action with crisis response. Communities which have adopted this paradigm shift appreciate the opportunity to make decisions about how to avoid recurrent extreme losses.

This report looks at the existing early warning and early actions systems in each of the three countries, as well as at regional level, and presents amodel system. It builds on many ideas and examples that came to light during the research process, and combines these into a single model. It considers both the components of the system, and the environment in which it operates. It is, of course, idealized, but it provides a benchmark against which progress can be measured, and some indications of the path ahead. Although there is a lot to be learnt from community level EW EA systems, due to the timeframes, this was not addressed within this research project. However this is planned for the coming months.

Finally, this research seeks to identify the most important areas for further investment to address substantial gaps. Some of these gaps are in ‘hardware’: proven appropriate responses in water and education; more substantial surge models; different funding arrangements. But some of them are ‘software’: agreements on appropriate indicators and triggers; increased coherence on key issues between development and humanitarian actors; and more effective national ownership and leadership. Additional work to increase confidence in the early warning systems and analysis is a critical precursor to be able to address most of the gaps.

To conclude, there is a strong commitment to work differently, to learn from experience and to ensure that past mistakes are not repeated. The importance of the agenda is not in debate: it is evidenced by the breadth of stakeholders who engaged with the research process through its steering committee, and by the findings from broad consultations. But this enthusiasm and willingness is not sufficient: the scale of most programming is too modest, the surge models is largely untested, the flexible funding schemes are insufficient, both the humanitarian architecture and contingency planning approaches are designed for traditional responses, and the coordination is too weak. So lots more need to be done.

Download

Early-Warning-Early-Action-Report-Final-July-2014.pdf (PDF, 1.4mb)

More like this

FEX: Food security early warning systems in the Greater Horn of Africa

A review1 Denan, a rare well enables this nomad to soothe his goat's thirst The May edition of the Greater Horn of Africa Food Security Update presents the findings of a...

en-net: Consultant needed for literature review on nutrition surveillance and early warning

TERMS OF REFERENCE
MODELING EARLY RISK INDICATORS TO ANTICIPATE MALNUTRITION (MERIAM) PROJECT

Literature Review: What are the success factors for nutrition...

FEX: The Evolution of Ethiopian Government’s Early Warning System

Dr Kassahun Bedada Beyi Dr Kassahun Bedada Beyi is Early Warning and Response Case Team Coordinator with the Early Warning and Response Directorate. This is located within the...

Early warning early action: Mechanisms for rapid decision making

IFRC and partners release a new report: Early warning early action: Mechanisms for rapid decision making. Drought preparedness and response in the arid and semi-arid lands of...

FEX: Evaluation of Dafur Early Warning and Food Information System

North Dafur where SCUK operated until December 2004 Summary of evaluation1 Save the Children UK (SCUK) recently commissioned an evaluation of the Darfur Food Information...

FEX: Maintaining GOAL’s capacity to support surveillance in Ethiopia

By Zeine Muzeiyn and Ewnetu Yohannes Zeine Muzeiyn has been working in the area of Nutrition for the last seven years. Before he joined GOAL Ethiopia, he had been working in...

NEX: Meeting demand peaks for CMAM in government health services in Kenya

Regine Kopplow et al. Field Exchange 47, p3 The humanitarian community and national governments increasingly recognise that early warning and response are more effective and...

FEX: Linking early warning system information to response

The emergency livestock off-take programme, Isiolo district 1996-7 By Helen Bushell and Mike Wekesa Isiolo - A trader admires the animals he has purchased Helen Bushell is a...

FEX: Can the Nutrition Information System be ‘trusted’ to build on available data sources?

By Patrizia Fracassi Patrizia holds an M.Sc. in Development Management. Over the past two years, she has consulted in Ethiopia for UNICEF and the World Bank. She previously...

FEX: Responding to early warnings

Summary of published research1 Desert locust An article on the failure of early warning systems (EWS) to elicit response cites recent experiences in Niger and southern Africa...

FEX: Introduction (Special Supplement 3)

Glossary AAH Action Against Hunger ACF Action Contre la Faim ACF-E ACF-Spain ALDEF Arid Lands Development Focus AREN Association pour la Revitalisation de l'Elevage...

FEX: The Collection of Early Warning Information Through Community Resource People – A Case Study from the Red Sea State

Beja Nomads in the Red Sea State By Mahomed Dien, Fatma Musa, Alawia Osman who are field officers for the Oxfam Community Situation Indicator (CSI) project since its inception...

FEX: Meeting demand peaks for CMAM in government health services in Kenya

By Regine Kopplow, Yacob Yishak, Gabrielle Appleford and Wendy Erasmus Regine Kopplow is a Global Nutrition Advisor with Concern Worldwide. She previously worked in various...

FEX: The 2011 famine in Somalia: lessons learnt from a failed response

Summary of published research1 Location: Somalia What we know: In July 2011, a famine was declared in Southern Somalia despite sufficient, timely and robust early warnings....

FEX: From the Editor

A key thematic focus of this issue of Field Exchange is Humanitarian Reform. There have been many reviews and evaluations concerning the level of progress made since the reform...

en-net: early warning for famines?

Colleagues, is there a reputable international organization (WFP? IMF? etc.) that maintains an "early warning system" for potential impending famines? Maybe something based...

FEX: A Review of the advances and challenges in nutrition in conflicts and crises over the last 20 years

Abbreviated version of unpublished paper Food distribution at the ICRC kitchen in Tonj. By Frances Mason and Anna Taylor This paper is a shortened version of the complete...

FEX: IASC strategy on meeting humanitarian challenges in urban areas

In 2010, the Inter- Agency Standing Committee (IASC) produced a strategy on meeting humanitarian challenges in urban areas. The IASC Urban Strategy includes a...

FEX: Dangerous delay in responding to Horn of Africa early warnings of drought

Summary of briefing paper1 According to a briefing paper just released by Oxfam and Save the Children UK (SC UK), the 2011 crisis in the Horn of Africa has been the most severe...

FEX: When is a system not a system? Challenges to improved humanitarian action in food crises

Summary of symposium presentation Austen Davis, the General Director of MSF Holland made a presentation on 'Challenges to Improved Humanitarian action in Food Crises' at the...

Close

Reference this page

International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Save the Children, Oxfam, FAO, WFP (2014). Early warning early action: Mechanisms for rapid decision making. www.ennonline.net/earlywarningaction