Early warning: a people-centred approach to early warning systems and the 'last mile'

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Abstract

The people-centred approach to early warning focuses on how communities can understand threats and avoid them. Disasters are partly caused by external hazards, but they also stem simply from vulnerability: people being in the wrong place without adequate protection. Perhaps the most well-known risk assessment method of recent years is the “vulnerability and capacity assessment”, developed by the Red Cross Red Crescent. There is a consensus that information must extend to communities so as to facilitate their adoption of protective actions. The linking of early warning and early action with development aspirations is what motivates people to engage. Factors as diverse as knowledge, power, culture, environment, lifestyle and personality often determine whether people heed warnings. Engaging people outside any warning system is called the “last mile” – a term that expresses the sentiment that warnings often do not reach those who need them most. Addressing vulnerability in disaster reduction is often similar to promoting development, but in the developed world “top-down” approaches to risk assessment and early warning dominate.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWorld Disasters Report 2009
EditorsLindsay Knight
Place of PublicationSwitzerland
PublisherInternational Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
Pages39-67
ISBN (Print)9291391425
Publication statusPublished - 2009

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