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Science for humanitarian emergencies and resilience (SHEAR) scoping study: Annex 2 - The current status of early warning systems and risk assessments in Africa, the Caribbean and South Asia – A literature review

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The report forms part of the Science for Humanitarian Emergencies and Resilience (SHEAR) scoping study, which aims to provide the UK Government’s Department for International Development (DFID) with evidence-based recommendations on future research priorities for risk assessments and early warning systems. The focus is on weather-related hazards (i.e. cyclones, floods, droughts and landslides) for humanitarian and development purposes in low-income countries across Africa, South Asia and the Caribbean.

Overall 190 papers, reports and online resources were reviewed with a fairly even coverage across each region and on early warning systems, risk assessments and analytical tools, and on how information is used to inform decision making. International data sets show that the total numbers of people affected by weather related emergencies and disasters are greatest in South Asia but the Caribbean islands stand out as having particularly high ‘risks to people’ and economic damage from hurricanes and flooding per capita. Floods and droughts are important in Africa and although landslide risks affect fewer people they are locally important in Nepal, India and in some Caribbean islands.

The review highlights specific opportunities to improve both early warning systems and risk assessments in each region, particularly with regards to (i) flood forecasting and the communication of drought forecasts in Africa (ii) drought and flood forecasting in the Caribbean and (iii) early warning systems for landslides in Nepal, an important hazard in terms of fatalities. These findings will be considered alongside other evidence from surveys and end-user and expert workshops to inform the SHEAR programme.