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WMO Workshop Expores Urban Early Warning Systems in Central America

WMO13 December 2013: A workshop on Multi-Hazard Early Warning Systems (MHEWS) for Urban Areas in Central America explored the challenges, gaps, needs and opportunities for strengthening EWS and climate resilience in large and medium-sized cities in Central America.

During the workshop, which was held from 10-12 December 2013, in San José, Costa Rica, participants stressed that effective early warning systems are an essential component of disaster risk reduction (DRR) and can best be delivered through operational partnerships between disaster risk management agencies and municipal governments. Participants also discussed the growing size of cities in the region, the increasing vulnerability of expanding populations, weak infrastructures (such as drainage systems and buildings), and current zoning codes. They stressed that urban populations are highly exposed to hydrometeorological hazards, such as severe precipitation and flash floods.

The workshop explored good practices by urban MHEWS, which demonstrate the critical need for operational cooperation involving different national agencies and municipal governments. The workshop: recommended strengthening the technical capacity of National Meteorological and Hydrological Services to provide meteorological, hydrological and climate services to municipal areas; and emphasized technical assistance for severe weather forecasting, storm surge and coastal inundation forecasting, flash flood guidance, and integrated data processing.

The workshop also recommended: preparing relevant and actionable risk-based warning messages and dissemination channels; developing coordinated emergency drills and evaluation systems; launching multi-agency national projects for urban MHEWS; and establishing national capacity development projects involving regional cooperation and technical and multi-stakeholder training activities.

The workshop was led by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and co-sponsored by regional and international partners, including the Center for the Prevention of Natural Disasters in Central America, the World Bank, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), the UN International Strategy for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), and the US Agency for International Development's Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA). [WMO Press Release] [Workshop Website]