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.

Sustaining the ambition, delivering change after the World Humanitarian Summit

Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Country: World

In the final year of providing self-reports against the commitments to advance the Agenda for Humanity, 117 stakeholders described the efforts they made in 2018 to realize this ambitious vision.
At the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul in May 2016, leaders made over 3,500 commitments to advance the Agenda for Humanity. In the third and final year of providing self-reports against these commitments, 117 stakeholders described the efforts they made from January to December 2018 to realize this ambitious vision.

The 2019 annual synthesis report provides a summary of their collective achievements around the 5 Core Responsibilities and 24 Transformations of the Agenda for Humanity, as well as persistent challenges since the Summit. The 2019 report includes a few new elements: visual summaries at the beginning of each chapter (in addition to a global one) to provide a quick overview of key findings and recommendations, and a new 'Assessing progress' section which explores potential indicators and methodologies that could be used in future to determine collective progress.

Looking at progress in 2018 and comparing it to work done since the Summit, the report found progress in shifting to a culture of conflict prevention, working to integrate gender in all aspects of humanitarian programming, and that more national and local organizations are being represented in coordination processes. The report found that there are strengthened efforts both to make humanitarian action more inclusive and, separately, to enhance humanitarian-development-peace collaboration. But there are persistent challenges: fiduciary risk intolerance is preventing local and national partners from accessing funds, and risk aversion is also preventing greater investment in preparedness and multi-year funding. There is a gap between normative commitments and applying them in the field. Despite these challenges, among others, the momentum brought about by the Summit continues and the report exhorts stakeholders to maintain the Summit's broader ambition for structural change.

The Executive Summary provides an overview of trends in progress and gaps that need to be addressed. Each chapter can also be downloaded separately for an in-depth view of progress.

ATCO Frontec joins as new corporate partner

HLA is pleased to announce that ATCO Frontec has joined as a new corporate partner.

ATCO Frontec specializes in operational logistic support services, remote site turn-key accommodation and disaster response solutions. With a global reach, it operates across the disaster and emergency management spectrum, from mitigation and preparedness, to response and recovery, supporting the principle “Build Back Better”. Its highly trained teams provide project management expertise, procurement services and logistics, to rapidly deploy mission-critical services, incident facilities and structures.

ATCO Frontec is a valued partner in emergency response around the world. From the 2005 earthquake in Pakistan to Puerto Rico’s Hurricane Maria in 2017, it has supported municipalities, provincial and federal governments, as well as NATO’s global operations.

To read more about ATCO's work in disaster response, visit their excellent website, which has a number of case studies, or contact David Lampshire.

Credit: Christian Backmund Fotografie

HLA highlights need for multi-sector collaboration at humanitarian logistics conference

HLA was represented by Chief Executive George Fenton, who emphasized improved multi-sector collaboration to maximize efficiency

On 21st May, HLA had a strong presence at the much-needed sector-specific workshop on Humanitarian Aviation, which took place in Leipzig, Germany. The meeting, held on the sidelines of the 2019 International Transport Forum, was jointly organized by Leipzig/Halle Airport, Volga-Dnepr Group and the Akkon University of Human Sciences. It enabled the stakeholders present to explore specifically how air transport can aid humanitarian efforts, using Germany as a reference point. As such, it brought together actors from the (German) NGO sector, commercial air transport industry, academia, and the donor community.

The conference was organized into workshops and practical demonstrations, and themes covered in the various sessions included humanitarian access, airport preparedness, and Emergency Medical Team (EMT) logistics. HLA was represented by the Chief Executive George Fenton, who facilitated a discussion group that explored the ways in which the NGO sector can get up to speed and be better prepared to respond collaboratively (with other stakeholders) during emergencies. They also identified the challenges that must be overcome in order to improve the implementation of EMTs including bureaucracy and cost, as well as how to better mobilize local aviation capacity. 

Mr. Fenton also moderated a panel discussion, where the issue of the clear gap that exists when it comes to strategic coordination of (air) humanitarian logistics was identified. There was an agreement from the group that more work is needed in this area, and as such agreed, in principle, to hold ongoing discussions in this regard.

“Aircraft are important in certain local contexts, as we saw during the Cyclone Idai response in Mozambique. However, there is not enough coordination to ensure that they work efficiently. More connectedness will certainly lead to more cost effectiveness, and that is what we explored in this workshop”. – George Fenton

As German humanitarian NGOs have a particular interest and see great value in deploying the WHO-certified EMTs, there were some practical demonstrations of what this entails. EMT logistics is seen as very specific German development due to the concentration on medical activities inside Germany, and hence have comparative expertise in this area. The Volga-Dnepr Group, who is leading the charge for the need to do things differently to improve efficiency, also gave a demonstration of some of the unique capabilities of two of the aircraft in their extensive fleet.

“One of the initiatives we’re advancing is for consolidated cargo, which means NGOs share space on bigger aircraft, giving them service and space at a cheaper price, ensuring that they are able to reach more people much more quickly during emergencies. As a first step, we are launching a survey to understand the needs of the NGO community. The findings will help make a strong business case to take this forward.”

Stuart Smith, Director Global Humanitarian, Volga-Dnepr Group

Action Help Germany– a coalition of 10 major GermanNGOs including World Vision, Welthungerhilfe, Action Medeor, DRK – also gave an insight into how they have cooperated with each other including sharing details on lift capacity projects, and some past joint funding for charter flights. It was a useful case study into the German context, even as the workshop participants sought ways by which they could develop useful examples that work, and which can be replicated in other contexts. As such, the discussions also explored the response to recent cyclone Idai in Mozambique, and what lessons that presents for more efficient use of air cargo transport during such emergencies.

Key conclusions and way forward

  • The need for cross-sector collaboration from donors, public, private, and the NGO sectors was a recurring theme from the workshop discussions, with recognition from both the German government and the NGO community that there is a place for improved efficiency in coordinating and sharing transport assets in disaster response. This was identified to be vital in order to prevent wastage and duplication, and make efforts more aligned. Overall, buy-in fromEU member states is vital for effective air logistics coordination.
  • Germany – as a donor country – has an approach to the funding and organization of air cargo that differs from other EU nations, and which presents both opportunities and challenges. As the German government view towards the role of donated air cargo is to be neutral (not seen as involving in other nations affairs), its aid interventions are less bilateral in this regard, and this can present some challenges with coordination and efficiency.
  • There is still a lot of learning and improvement that can be done to enhance the impact of the EMTs. For example, while there is standardisation on the purpose and objectives of the EMTs, the cargo components themselves are less standardized with different suppliers in place. One solution advanced is for a possible increased role of the specialist Robert Koch Institute to interface between the German EMTs, government, and the WHO, in this regard.
  • There is interest and space for the private sector to introduce some sector-specific initiatives in the field of cargo transportation. This include in the area of special considerations regarding contracting and frame partnerships; the development of a technological platform for aircraft space share and consolidation; and special conditions and services that airports may create and offer for humanitarian value-add. A good exampleof private sector engagement cited was the UNOCHA established ‘connecting business initiative’ (CBI) groupin the Philippines, which is a valuable sector cluster approach for private sector partners.
  • There is a need for a stronger and improved donor-led engagement with the transport outputs of NGOs and agencies. This is in terms of the coordination of assets – who flies where and with what –, and possibly an intermediary role for a coordinator between the donor and the various actors.


Photo credit: Christian Backmund Fotografie

Mozambique update from HLA members

We have been coordinating responses from various HLA members on the current emergency situation in Mozambique following Cyclin Idai.

Club of Mozambique - emergency update

Club of Mozambique, the online gateway to Mozambique, reported that on 18 March the first international airlift arrived in Beira, Mozambique from UNHRD in Dubai. WFP are handling the distribution of supplies. For more information, read here.

Aero Africa - capacity

Reporting on 21 March, Jamie AndersonDirector -  African Solutions, said: "Remarkably I have not seen any humanitarian aid requests freely on the market for air cargo into Mozambique as of yet. It appears that the international call to help has yet to gather pace. I spoke to a few forwarders who handle NGO’s yesterday and they said the same. There are relief convoys en route ex South Africa. Day by day the world is starting to see the big picture therefore I expect a lot more activity in the coming days."

In terms of carrier availability, he added: "We would welcome any enquiries as we are very in touch with aircraft availability along the entire eastern coastline of Africa. Astral Aviation has the 727F based in NBO. There are also ample AN26F and also a C310 in MGQ that could also be called into play, as the operators do have spare hours".

Volga-Dnepr - capacity

Reporting on 21 March, Stuart Smith, Director Global Humanitarian, said of Volga-Dnepr's capacity: "1 x VDA IL76 is now ready in Maputo and will operate flights in coming days for BEW/Beira International Airport. We may consider ops also to Chimoio/VPY inside Mozambique. We may also look to offer B737F of Atran Cargo (Volga-Dnepr Group) ex EU and UAE origins, in case of smaller loads requirement. BEW, as we understand it, is not able to download larger freighters due lack of MDL but smaller freighters (forklift/low loader etc) as yes OR ramp". - shelter

John Vasila of Sheltereach said: “Zimbabwean President, Emmerson Minangagwa, of town Chmanimani Government wants to ensure that houses are built back with stronger materials. Sheltereach designs can be summed up with the word Simple. Simple for the end users, simple in terms of logistics and simple in procurement.

This leads to safe, affordable housing with access to services. We can also help local people to understand the building principles and materials used in our shelter/housing systems. We can partner with Government and NGOs to ensure appropriate disaster relief and reconstruction methods are used, increasing the strength by up to 30 times of  the original structure, usually without increasing the minimal budget cost".

See attached for typical shelter options and a diagram of a Disaster Cycle, in terms of shelter.