Practical Action has been working on community based EWS (early warning systems) in Nepal since 2002 - specifically on systems which give early warning of flood. As a result of its own learning, on-going community feedback, and “real time” evaluation, Practical Action has become convinced of a number of key issues.
- Investment in EWS is a cost effective use of limited resources where risk can be anticipated and measured. Vulnerable communities have a right to such warning.
- High tech/high cost systems are not only inappropriate but unsustainable. Use of local resources both cuts costs and ensures greater ownership.
- Systems should provide information, not warnings per se. Making information intelligible and user friendly are fundamental to any system.
- Users of information should be active participants in systems, not beneficiaries of them. Systems must be established which put users first and at their centre.
- Systems should be based on the principal of “demand for”, not “supply of” information.
- Successful EWS are the product of effective person to person communication and efficient social networks. Communication technologies merely complement these.
- Systems should dictate the technology and not technology the system.