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Mar 1, 2023

Early Warning System Shows Great Success in the Caribbean

Multi-hazard early warning systems are playing an integral role in the preservation of lives across the globe, in the event of an impending hazard. For example, when a tropical cyclone is expected to impact Belize, through its early warning system the National Meteorological Service of Belize can make predictions about the storm’s projected path, its land fall and the strength of the system, among other things. In Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, there are early warning systems in place to inform residents about volcanic activities. Early warning provides information on potential impacts so that the vulnerable can take early action. Elizabeth Riley, the Executive Director of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency, was part of a press conference held in Uruguay on the Early Warning Systems For All Initiative under the UNDRR. Here is what she had to say about the initiatives benefits to the Caribbean.


Elizabeth Riley

Elizabeth Riley, Executive Director, CDEMA

“The benefit is that we have been given greater emphasis to having better modeling in the Caribbean. So the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology has over that time period significantly upgraded the modeling capability were we can now get better granularity on potential impacts from excess rainfall as well as cyclonic events in the region.  We have invested and a number of countries now have what we call tsunami ready designations because tsunami is another one of the hazards treated under that umbrella as well. We have been working with the seismic research center upgrading the capability of the volcanoes. I think one of the untold success in the Caribbean is the excellent work that was done by the full suite of actors supporting Saint Vincent and the Grenadines around the La Soufriere eruption. There were no loss of life. This is very unusual. If you look at volcanic eruptions across the globe this is unusual. And that is a real success story coming on the operation of multi-hazards early warning systems in the region. I would say that to some extent every CEDMA participating state has early warning systems in place to some extent. The best developed early warning systems are around hydro-meteorological hazards but we are making good progress around those related to seismic. Since COVID19 we have also invested quite a bit in mechanisms for health alerts and threats that may come along on that side as well. What is the greatest barrier? I would say the risk knowledge and if you look across the globe on the progress that has been made with the Sendai Framework you will realize this is congruent with the global picture.”

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