Global effort to strengthen early warning systems expands

Source: World Meteorological Organization
Country: Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Chad, Fiji, France, Germany, Haiti, India, Marshall Islands, Mozambique, Papua New Guinea, Switzerland, Togo, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, World

The Climate Risk Early Warning Systems (CREWS) Initiative, which has invested $42 million in projects in the most vulnerable countries, has received a new contribution of 10 million euros from Germany.
Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States benefit from better weather and climate information

A global initiative to strengthen early warning systems and climate resilience in the most vulnerable countries continues to gain momentum with a new injection of Euro 10 million contribution from Germany.

The Climate Risk Early Warning Systems (CREWS) Initiative, set up in 2015, has invested USD 42 million in projects in Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States and has mobilized an additional USD 130 million from public funds of other development partners.

Thus, Fiji now has an early warning system for flash floods. Advisories are issued for sand storms in Burkina Faso, which is also now generating seasonal forecasts and informing small scale farmers through local radio stations on when to plant their crops. Papua New Guinea issued its first seasonal forecast this year thanks to cooperation with the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.

The latest counties that benefit from CREWS support are Afghanistan, Chad and Togo, with projects under preparation for Haiti, as well as additional financing planned for the Pacific and West Africa.

Gerd Müller, German Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, said: “We must move from talk to action. The level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is higher than it has ever been. Climate change is already happening. And those suffering the most are the developing countries who, to crown it all, are the ones that have contributed the least to this situation. That is why it is important that affected countries get proper weather forecasts, so they are not caught totally unprepared when droughts or floods occur. If they know, for example, that a storm is on its way, with heavy rainfall, they have a much better chance of being able to prepare for it and can perhaps also receive timely assistance.”

The Minister said that good weather forecasts not only make it possible to respond better to crises at short notice, they also allow more long-term climate analyses to be made. If it is clear that a lengthy drought is coming, then the planning of food supplies can be better organised.

Therefore, the Minister said, “weather forecasts are the first building block in creating a foundation that countries can use to make whatever adjustments are needed to cope with a changing climate. Germany will help them, because the knowledge is already there.”

Carole Dieschbourg Minister for the Environment, Climate and Sustainability of Luxembourg, said the increasing frequency and intensity of extreme weather means that early warnings to protect lives and property are now more necessary than ever.

She said it was vital to close the capacity gap and ensure that weather forecasts and climate information from powerful supercomputers are made available to vulnerable countries and communities.

“We have made progress but we really have to do more,” she told a side event at the UN Climate Change Conference on 11 December.

Ingrid Hoven of the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development highlighted the role early warnings play in building resilience to climate change. She stressed the high return from such investments, whilst and encouraging comprehensive approaches to climate risk promoted through the InsuResilience initiative, that include early warnings and insurance schemes.

Germany announced an Euro 10 million contribution to the CREWS Trust Fund, in addition to the initial Euro 3 million contributed in 2016.

In support of these efforts, a new Alliance for Hydromet Development, announced on 10 December, will align international efforts to close the capacity gap on early warnings and climate information by 2030. It brings together 12 international organizations providing assistance to developing countries, including the World Bank and World Meteorological Organization.

CREWS was launched by the French Government and four other countries at COP21 in Paris to ensure that Least Developed Countries and small island developing State are able to benefit. Two additional countries have since joined, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

“CREWS is increasingly relevant because of the growing impact of climate change especially on the most vulnerable,” said France’s Ambassador for Climate Change Brigitte Collet. “It is clear we are in a race against the clock,” she said.

She said that an assessment of CREWS showed that more than 44 countries benefit, out of a target of 76 priority LDCs and SIDS. “France will remain committed.”

CREWS allows LDCs and SIDS to draw on the expertise of three partners: the World Bank and its Global Facility for Disaster Risk Reduction and Recovery, the World Meteorological Organization, that also hosts the CREWS Secretariat, and the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction.

In all these countries, WMO has successful identified the most adapted and best available technical advice that is often found in more advanced meteorological agencies to address the needs.

“CREWS is really a success story and is taking real action on the ground,” said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas. Half of national meteorological and hydrological services worldwide still lack proper multi-hazard early warning systems and impact-based forecasts, he said.

For instance, Tropical Cyclone Idai caused massive loss of life in Mozambique earlier this year because, whilst the storm was accurately forecast, there were insufficient advance warnings about the impacts of the Category 5 winds, huge storm surge and devastating flooding, said Mr Taalas.

By contrast, a major tropical cyclone which hit the Indian coastline in Odisha this year killed 38 people, compared to the 10,000 lives lost in a similar storm in the same location 20 years ago, said UN Disaster Risk Reduction chief Mami Mizutori. Better weather forecasts – and in particular better communication and education - were decisive, she said.

Pacific islands are among CREWS beneficiaries. Four out of the lowest-lying islands in the world are in the Pacific.

“The highest point in the Marshall islands is the landfill,” said Kosi Latu, Director-General of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme.

“This puts the scale of the challenge into context. The CREWS project is so important because we are talking about the most vulnerable of the vulnerable. CREWS funding has helped local meteorological services provide weather forecasts and early warnings in simple ways which can be easily understood by local communities.

“The CREWS project enables us to raise the level of consciousness. It has helped to increase the level of understanding of early warning systems in the context of the Pacific,” said Mr Latu.

CREWS has a special gender-sensitive focus because women are often impacted differently than men by climate-related risks and are at the forefront of having action at the local level.

A forgotten crisis: Half a million people displaced by drought in Ethiopia

Source: Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre
Country: Ethiopia

Conflict over resources and ethnic violence triggered more displacement in Ethiopia than any other country in the world in 2018, according to a new report by the IDMC.
A forgotten crisis: Half a million people displaced by drought in Ethiopia

Geneva, 13 December 2019 – Around 425,000 people are estimated to be living in internal displacement in Ethiopia as a result of drought. Children and youth make up half of this figure. As the Ethiopian Government launches a new initiative to find lasting solutions to displacement in the region, a new report calls for more investment in local capacity and resilience.

Conflict over resources and ethnic violence triggered more displacement in Ethiopia than any other country in the world in 2018, according to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC). More than one million people are still uprooted from their homes. A further 425,000 people have been displaced by drought that occurred between 2015 and 2017. New IDMC research, launched today in Geneva, looks at the Somali region of eastern Ethiopia, where pastoralists lost up to 80 per cent of their livestock and many still live in camps reliant on aid up to four years later.

“Despite the scale and duration of displacement associated with drought in Ethiopia, it has been overshadowed by the recent fighting and become a ‘forgotten crisis’. Pastoralists told us “We have no hope for the future.” Many of these people have nowhere to return to, so alternative solutions must be found,” said Pablo Ferrández, IDMC researcher and the report's author.

The report findings show that displacement triggered by drought in Ethiopia is a protracted but short-range issue, and that those displaced prefer to integrate in their new locations rather than to return home. More than 200 displacement sites that have existed since or before 2017 are still open today. Around 70 per cent of those interviewed did not travel far from their place of origin. IDMC researchers spoke to pastoralists who rely on livestock to make a living, moving around to find grazing land and water. Since they lost their animals in the drought, respondents said that they have no reason to return.

The Ethiopia Durable Solutions Initiative (DSI); a joint endeavour between the government of Ethiopia, the UN, non-governmental organisations and donors, was launched in Addis Ababa last week. Its aim is to facilitate cooperation and collective action on the issue of internal displacement. Strategies proposed by the DSI involve shifting the approach from short-term humanitarian crisis management to long-term development and planning for future risks.

“The testimonies of the 219 Ethiopians IDMC spoke to all point to the need for investing in local capacity, supporting livelihoods and building resilience – and the new Durable Solutions Initiative aims to do just that.

“We commend the Ethiopian Government for the taking the lead in investing in long-term, lasting solutions for displaced people and we are proud to be a partner on this crucial issue,” said Bina Desai, IDMC’s head of policy and research.


The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) is the world's authoritative source of data and analysis on internal displacement. Since its establishment in 1998, as part of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), IDMC has offered a rigorous, independent and trusted service to the international community. Our work informs policy and operational decisions that improve the lives of the millions of people living in internal displacement, or at risk of becoming displaced in the future.

Download the report: “Nothing to put in your mouth”: Seeking durable solutions to drought displacement in Ethiopia here.

Watch a short video of the research findings here.

For interviews please contact:

Frankie Parrish, IDMC

Email: (

Office: + 41 22 552 36 45

IMO changes limits on sulphur in shipping freight

GEODIS (who gave a webinar on carbon emissions to HLA members recently) have alerted us to legal changes affecting shipping freight.

The IMO (International Marine Organization) has set a limit for Sulphur in fuel oil used on board ships of 0.50% from January 2020. This will significantly reduce the amount of sulphur oxide emanating from ships and would have major health and environmental benefits for the world, particularly for populations living close to ports and coasts. IMO2020 is the first in a series of steps by the IMO to reduce emissions in response to climate change (source: IMO). All ships will be required to comply on all of the world's oceans. Stricter 0.1% Sulphur will remain in the emission control areas in Europe and North America.

To read more about the implications, please click the link for a PDF article: IMO 2020

Webinar on reducing carbon emissions successful

On 27 March 2019, logistics provider GEODIS provided a free 40 minute webinar for HLA on the subject of reducing carbon emissions in humanitarian logistics. The webinar included three speakers, and a presentation of the EcoTransit measuring tool. A full video of the webinar is available at:

The speakers were:

Edith Mazoyer, GEODIS:

Cecile Bray, GEODIS

Ralph Anthes, EcoTransit:

During the webinar, the speakers covered the following:

  • General WW transport context (increase of flows)
  • Environmental impact of each type of transport (rail, road, sea and air)
  • Focus on the energy mix (how is the energy produced and the impact. For instance, electricity does not have the same impact if produced by coal as by sun or wind)
  • Energy innovations for transport
  • A case study: transport from Europe to Middle East by air & sea, or by air or by road
  • A live demo of the EcoTransitmeasuring tool:


This slide summarises the presentation.

Questions and observations

The speakers answered a range of questions, including:

Q: Will EcoTransit be available soon to NGOs?

A: This is being discussed soon by EcoTransit and Ralph Anthes hopes that NGO’s will be able to use the full system for a reduced fee.

Q: It is surely better to buy supplies locally than have to use long distance freight?

A: George Fenton said that buying locally was always a better option and he was aware that much effort had been made in recent years to support local production, especially of pharmaceuticals. He cautioned that steps would need to be taken that the supplies were quality assured and stressed the importance of planning and preparedness, for example, to assess and quality review local suppliers before an emergency situation arises.

Q: Surely off-setting carbon can lead to increased transport costs?

A: Yes, in some cases it can and the answer is to preposition stocks where possible, plus collaborate ahead of time and at the time of a disaster with logistics service providers to obtain a balance.

Q: In disaster situations, surely airfreight is the only answer?

A: Yes, often it is but preparedness can help reduce the need. NGOs should work with air carriers and collaborate better with other NGOs and agencies, to optimize loading and avoid empty space. They should also try to use freight rather than passenger aviation and direct flights.

Nikola Usenovic, Head of Global Procurementat International Medical Corps commented:

''We will be using this learning to pass on to our colleagues and, hopefully, to include in future policies, projects and procurements. We are considering mandating our major suppliers under BPA/LTA, where we move large quantities of goods, to provide the Co2 report using the EcoTransit or similar tools. We will also consider using this to measure and then reduce the carbon footprint of our supply chain by using sea/truck vs air when feasible. We will also be incorporating consideration of carbon footprint impact when developing sourcing strategies.

For example, last year we switched transport mode to trucks to a Middle East program location, and by sea to a North African program location vs air. Increased donor advocacy and support on this issue will be very useful to speed up implementation of such ecological best practices in the humanitarian sector."