UN proposes world-wide natural disaster warning system

Thursday, January 20, 2005

The UN has proposed the formation of the International Early Warning Programme (IEWP), with the suggestion that it would have greatly limited the impact of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunamis.

The system would analyse data from all over the world and rapidly transmit warnings. It would also feature a population training element, to make sure people know what to do upon hearing warnings or to teach them to recognize danger signs.

“This new programme will help bring safety, security and peace of mind,” stated the Director of the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR), Sálvano Briceno, at the World Conference on Disaster Reduction (WCDR) in Kobe, Japan.

The system, first proposed two years ago, has been given new impetus by the recent disaster in the Indian Ocean. It will warn against many types of natural disaster including wildfires, floods, droughts, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis.

The Program will see many existing UN programs working together, including the World Food Program, the World Meteorological Program, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). One third of the people the World Food Program helps are the victims of natural disasters.

The system will be built around better, more open flow of regional data and the formulation of local warning plans.