20 January 2012, 11:36
I'm sure most of you would have seen news about the Joint Agency Briefing Paper, produced by OXFAM and Save the Children, entitle 'A dangerous Delay. The cost of late response to early warnings'. The link is: Joint Agency Briefing Paper, 2012, A Dangerous Delay: The cost of late response to early warnings in the 2011 drought in the Horn of Africa, https://www.oxfam.org/sites/www.oxfam.org/files/bp-dangerous-delay-horn-africa-drought-180112-en.pdf
This relates to the recent/ongoing drought situation in the Horn of Africa, in which around 13 million people have been affected, and possibly between 50,000-100,000 have died, many of these in Somalia.
This is both a brilliant written, yet damning, report. It highlights the fact that the Early Warning Systems (EWS) we have in place, an example being www.fews.net, work really well, and warnings about potential drought were being flagged during the second half of 2010 !! What the key stakeholders, and these include host governments, donors, NGOs and UN, have (with honourable exceptions) generally failed to do, is respond effectively in time for this..to be honest, this is feeble.
Whilst the report highlights the challenge of NGOs (for example) really needing to get to grips with issues such as DRR and risk management, what seems to be the major problem, is the inability of all the above mentioned to players to provide 'traction further up the line'..
From an observer from here 'Down Under', I wonder whether the problems for NGOs (as just one stakeholder group) are the following:
1. Do we focus too much on 'doom and gloom', and not alert our constituents to some of the really excellent risk reduction work being carried out by agencies such as FEWS-NET, and, to a lesser extent, some of the early interventions which the Ethiopian government began to put in place at a relatively early stage?
2. Alerting the general public to a slow-onset hazard (potential disaster), is much more challenging than a medium/fast onset disaster (where there is invariably a much more prominent media 'trigger'). Please note the article I've recently updated below which usefully illustrates key diagrams relating to disaster risk management (DRM), these including variants for slow-onset hazards such as drought..
Piper, C.A.H., 2011, TorqAid Diagrammatic Framework for Disaster Risk Management
3. Where on earth are our 'Champions' (people of the calibre & fire in their belly like Desmond Tutu), ie the leaders of our agencies, who should be in the faces of policy makers in Whitehall; Brussels/Strasbourg; New York, and banging on about these issues? Also, who are the corresponding policy-maker champions in power, whom our people can connect with, ones like (and I'm going back a few years) Clare Short or Gordon Brown (before he became PM !)...? Are there any champions in the various levels of the European Government?
Just some thoughts, and I'd appreciate receiving any responses.
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