Nsanje — Malawi Red Cross Society has introduced first ever community early warning automated reporting system to help timely response and action in the areas which are prone to water flooding.
Nsanje District Project Officer, Patricia Gadi, in an interview Monday with the Malawi News Agency (MANA), said Red Cross Malawi with funding from European Commission for Humanitarian Aid and with technical support from the Red Cross Societies; Belgian Red Cross (BRC), Danish Red Cross (DRC) and Netherlands Red Cross (NRC) has initiated the platform to ensure that community vulnerability to floods is reduced in the areas where floods occurs frequently.
Gadi said apart from Nsanje, some districts like Zomba and Chikwawa are also to benefit from the platform with the installation of the river gauges in the rivers which cause havoc to the communities during rainy seasons.
"In fact in the first place we trained Early Warning Response teams who are responsible for monitoring the rivers using the river gauges which have been installed along the rivers which make the communities vulnerable when water flooding occurs. These committees were also mandated to report manually their observation and send it to the relevant authorities so that they can signal the possible action to be made by the communities along the rivers.
"Now, for the communities to send the data to the relevant authorities, and for them to get a feedback for their quick reaction or timely action, which make the communities fail to respond or take action immediately hence being affected by the floods," explained Gadi.
She continued to say, Red Cross Society thought it wise to have an Early Warning automated platform which can easily aid in timely data reporting and timely feedback for timely response or action by all stakeholders including the communities who are prone to disasters.
With the ECHO funding, the early warning response teams in the three districts where river gauges were installed have been provided with state of the art Lenovo tablets so that when monitoring the water levels in the said rivers, they should be able to complete the form which is sent immediately to Red Cross Society Regional Office.
"The data is recorded using ODK software on the cell phone by the Community Early Warning system teams (CEWS) and the data is analysed at ECHO-ERIM Program Management Unit in Blantyre, and feedback is given almost instantly to the CEWS teams for timely community's action or response.
"The purpose of this protocol is to enhance coordination among community based early warning systems teams, district civil protection committees and national DRR and EWS stakeholders such as Department for Climate Change and Meteorological Services (DCCMS), Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DoDMA) and Operation Decision Support System (ODSS)," explained Gadi.
Nsanje Assistant District Disaster Risk Reduction Officer Humphrey Magalasi has commended Malawi Red Cross Society for the initiative as it will bring change but also taking immediate action when responding to disasters.
"The system has come at a write time. The community will be able to report what they are seeing and try to get feedback immediately and make a timely response. This will reduce the impacts that come due to the delay in responding to the early warning signs," said Magalasi.
Community based Early warning systems intervention is part of Malawi Red Cross Society (MRCS)ECHO-ERIM project which is a Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) intervention with funding from European Commission for Humanitarian Aid and with technical support from the Red Cross Societies; Belgian Red Cross (BRC), Danish Red Cross (DRC) and Netherlands Red Cross (NRC).
The overall objective of the project is to strengthen the capacity of Malawian authorities and local communities to cope with hydro-metrological risks by improving community resilience in the targeted districts of Zomba, Chikwawa and Nsanje.
Early Warning System (EWS) is a set of capacities needed to generate and disseminate timely and meaningful warning information to enable individuals, communities and organizations potentially threatened by hazards to prepare and act appropriately and in sufficient time to reduce the possibility of harm or loss of life, and reduce the economic and material impact of disasters.