Lalit Kumar Dashora1, Dr. Senaka Basnayake2 , Susantha Jayasinghe3
Climate Change and Hydrometeorological Hazards:
Asia and the Pacific regions are prone to multiple hydro-meteorological hazards including floods, droughts, cyclones, and storm surge. Owing to ‘unprecedented’ climate change, frequency and severity of these hydro-meteorological hazards are on the rise and associated risk is escalating as exposure is also increasing with the time. Risk fueled by extreme weather events. Some countries reached at a tipping point beyond which disaster risk, fueled by extreme weather events, exceeds their capacity to respond. According to theUnited Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (2019), these hazards are becoming multi-faceted and more intricate, due to unpredictability and increasing frequency of extreme weather events and therefore countries require significant improvement in the institutional capacities for weather monitoring and forecasting and early warning in the future.
Early Warning Early Actions:
A systematic approach towards managing risk through a well-established multi-hazard early warning system can minimize loss of lives and adverse economic impact. Early Warning System (EWS) backed with adequate capacities and effective institutional arrangements could predict hazards in an effective and timely manner, and enhancing capacities of decision makers and empowering vulnerable communities would help to minimize climate and disaster risks. As climate change continues to threaten human lives, ecosystems and economies, risk information and early warning systems are increasingly seen as key for reducing these impacts. At national level, there is a growing reliance upon effective end-to-end Multi-Hazard EWS (MHEWS) as more people and assets are being exposed to the hazards. This calls for functional early warning system that have applicability for most hazards. Advancements in observation and monitoring, mathematical modelling, computing capabilities, communication technology and conduct of scientific risk assessment have allowed technical and disaster management agencies to timely disseminate accurate warnings and move people and assets from the harm’s way. Warning dissemination and staging response actions are as important as accurate forecasting and determining potential impact. Any weak link in the elements of early warning system (even in case of previous well performing system) will result in under-performance or its failure. Hence the timely assessment of early warning system capacities and needs are crucial.
Fig. (1): Flooded street in Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nan (2019)
TheSendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (SFDRR) is the global framework which was aimed to building the resilience of nations and communities to disasters. The target ‘G’ of the SFDRR stresses the substantially increase the availability of and access to multi-hazard early warning systems and disaster risk information and assessments to people by 2030. According to theWorld Meteorological Organisation (2020), the majority of countries, including 88% of least developed countries and small island states, that submitted their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to UNFCCC have identified EWS as a “top priority”.
Making Communities and Institution Climate and Disaster Resilient:
Asian Disaster Preparedness Center (ADPC) regularlycontributes to various international, regional and national initiatives related to early warning and early actions in Asia and the Pacific. In South Asia, a study was conducted (2018-19) in association withOverseas Development Institute underBRACED Programme to understand theGovernance of Flood Early Warning System in Nepal under new governance system in country. Governance is cross-cutting pillar for MHEWS suggested byWorld Meteorological Organization. This study and resultant outputs look at the institutional mechanisms for assessing, monitoring, communicating and responding to flood risk information and warnings across three river basins in eastern and western Nepal, and identifies opportunities for enhancing these services under the new federal structure. Engagement with the NMHS and NDMO is very crucial for sustainability of tools and technology developed under various initiatives (programs and projects). In this context, Climate Data Portals were designed and developed and maintained forBangladesh,Myanmar, and Nepal to enable planning and development in climate services. Currently,Bangladesh Meteorological Department (BMD) is assisted (2019-2023) as Meteorology System Service Integrator (MSSI) under theBangladesh Weather and Climate Services Regional Project (BWCSRP). BMD is assisted to a) establish state of art meteorological ICT systems for BMD. This will include; a) procurement and establishment of Meteorological Data center, provisioning of High-Performance Computing (HPC) system for improved NWP and weather and climate modelling etc; b) strengthen forecasting systems (e.g. cyclone and storm surge forecasting, NWP) and installation of forecast verification schemes; c) improve climate and seasonal predictions, forecast product systems; d) development of radar assessment and training; e) review the O&M issues for BMD to consider sustainability issues of the NMHS; f) various training related planning and activities and others supports to BMD and the World Bank.
In the Pacific,Multi-Hazard Early Warning Systems Capacities and Needs Assessment was conducted (2020-2021) for Pacific Small Island Developing States (Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Tokelau, and Tuvalu) underClimate Risk and Early Warning Systems Programme supported by theWorld Meteorological Organisation. The outputs of this assessment served the remainder of the CREWS Pacific project as well as future capacity development activities and provide recommendations with corresponding resource requirements to enhance the effectiveness of the (MH)EWS, including elements of updated draft Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), for consideration by the Governments of the beneficiary countries.
In Southeast Asia, Urban Resilience to Climate Extreme in Southeast Asia (URCE) programme (2018-2023) supported by Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD) is assisting national and local level institutions to build resilience of the urban systems and urban communities to the current and emerging climate extremes, disasters and emergencies that are anticipated in the deltaic and coastal cities. Early warning system capacities and needs assessment of National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHS) and National Disaster Management Organisation (NDMO) in Myanmar and Viet Nam helped in identifying gaps in existing systems and prepare for future. The early warning system assessment was conducted based on four pillars for early warning system suggested byWorld Meteorological Organization, including i.) disaster risk knowledge, ii.) detection, monitoring and forecasting of the hazards and possible consequences, iii.) warning dissemination and communication and iv.) preparedness and response capability and few cross-cutting issues such as gender, governance etc. The assessment process involved a number ofKey Informant Interviews (KII), Focus Group Discussion (FGD) and workshops at national, sub-national and local level in Myanmar and Vietnam.
Fig. (2): Discussion with Yangon City Development Committee (YCDC) for Flood Hazards in Yangon and Neighbourhood
Sub-seasonal to seasonal prediction and its applications are very useful for trans-boundary flood and drought management at regional and national level in Southeast Asia. Regional institutions such as ADPC,ASEAN Specialised Meteorological Centre (ASMC),Regional Flood and Drought Management Center (RFDMC) of Mekong River Commission (MRC), working with national institutions like Vietnam Academy for Water Resources (VAWR) for training, capacity building of NMHS in Southeast Asia.
SERVIR Mekong Programme (2014-2022) in the Lower Mekong countries of Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia and Viet Nam uses earth observation and geospatial data for development program to respond to the needs of the countries. The use of earth observation and geospatial data is key to monitor and visualise the impending hydro-meteorological hazards. Through a unique partnership between theU.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and theU.S. National Aeronautics and Space Agency (NASA), SERVIR-Mekong is harnessing such space technology and open data to help address development challenges related to a changing climate. SERVIR-Mekong is hub to strengthened as a regional provider of geospatial data, analyses and capacity building services. Under SERVIR Mekong programme, various decision support tools have been developed for drought and flood monitoring. These high-quality user-tailored decision support tools and applications have been developed to address on-the-ground issues, empowering decision-makers to act locally on climate-sensitive challenges such as disasters, agriculture, water management, ecosystem protection and land use. Mekong Drought and Crop Watch (MDCW), which is an integrated system, has been developed to monitor, analyse and forecast drought as well as crop yield estimation. The MDCW meets the growing demand of an effective monitoring and forecasting system for drought by the Lower Mekong countries. MDCW has been developed under the SERVIR-Mekong program, with technical assistance from the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory as well as technical partners in the region such as theVietnam Academy for Water Resources (VAWR) under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of Viet Nam and Mekong River Commission (MRC).
Fig. (3): Mekong Drought and Crop Watch
Some of the MHEWS initiatives are published in peer reviewed journals such asGap assessment towards strengthening early warning systems andAssessing Gaps and Strengthening Early Warning System to Manage Disasters in Cambodia.
1Lalit Kumar Dashora, Senior MHEWS Specialist, Climate Resilience Department, ADPC
2Dr. Senaka Basnayake, Director, Climate Resilience Department, ADPC
3Susantha Jayasinghe, Senior Climate Modelling Specialist, Climate Resilience Department, ADPC