Community early warning systems: guiding principles

This guide aims to provide an overview of successful practice from the field for the disaster risk reduction/management practitioner interested in early warning systems (EWS) from more than 50 countries across the world, both inside the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and alongside it, through key partners. It presents guiding principles that will build a strong foundation for the design or strengthening of EWS at any level. It is not an operational, but a strategic guide that insists on asking the right questions and exploring all perspectives prior even to deciding whether or not early warning is the appropriate tool for a given context.

The guide is organized into three parts: (i) understanding - focuses on definitions, core components, EWS myths and political and institutional frameworks; (ii) guiding - illustrates key principles that should be carefully considered when embarking on any EWS design or support effort, regardless of the hazard(s) or level(s) targeted; and (iii) practising - breaks down the four core components of EWS to provide more specific guidance on community-level EWS and to demonstrate good practice and lessons learned locally from across the globe.

This guide has been developed to highlight principles of successful EWS efforts and to showcase good community level practice across the globe that rarely gets published. It has been designed with a focus on National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (i.e., in their auxiliary role), Red Cross Red Crescent staff and volunteers as well as NGO partners and practitioners at any level that are preparing to support governments that choose to build or strengthen EWS closely connected to at-risk communities—at the local, national, regional or global levels.