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Early Warning

An Early Warning System (EWS) is the set of capacities needed to generate and disseminate timely and meaningful warning information. The information should enable individuals, communities and organisations threatened by a hazard to prepare and to act appropriately and in sufficient time to reduce the possibility of harm or loss.

There are a range of factors necessary to achieve effective responses to warnings. A people-centred early warning system necessarily comprises four key elements:

  • knowledge of the risks;
  • monitoring, analysis and forecasting of the hazards;
  • communication or dissemination of alerts and warnings; and
  • local capabilities to respond to the warnings received.

The expression “end-to-end warning system” is also used to emphasize that warning systems need to span all steps from hazard detection through to community response.

Reference: UNISDR Terminology on Disaster Risk Reduction (2009) 

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