Community Based Early Warning System (CBEWS)

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Community Based Early Warning Systems (CBEWS)

A Community-Based Early Warning Systems (CBEWS) is a system developed, managed and maintained by the community itself, that empowers individuals and communities threatened by hazards to act in sufficient time and in an appropriate manner in a bid to reduce the possibility of personal injury, loss of life, damage to property, environment and loss of livelihood.

Community Based Early Warning Systems (CBEWS) seek ways to help communities use local resources and capacities effectively to better prepare for and respond to disasters and adopt measures to reduce their vulnerability.


CBEWS Functions and Objectives

The real significance of CBEWS is community empowerment. The ability to monitor the factors that turn a hazard (the actual event) into a disaster (the worst-case result of the event) can help save lives and livelihoods of populations that are at risk. CBEWS provides communities, practitioners and organizations involved in disaster risk management with advance information of risks that can be readily translated into prevention, preparedness and response actions. CBEWS helps to reduce economic losses by allowing people to better protect their assets and livelihood.

The system suggests that people of a community can be capable and it empowers them to protect and prepare themselves and make them resilient against the disastrous effects. The communities are in the best position to undertake preparedness measures against disasters. 

The CBEWS ensures that individuals and communities have knowledge about what is threatening them and are capable to communicate a change in threats, and that they are in a position to respond in a timely fashion. The empowering of the people/ community will be in the centre and the role of supporting organizations will be to facilitate active and meaningful participation of all community members.

Essentials of Community-Based Early Warning Systems

A community based early warning system must be reliable function effectively and must address the needs of all members of the community. Community based early warning systems must be built on four essential aspects: The CBEWS must address the need of all community members. Special needs of the most vulnerable groups of the community (women, people with disabilities, elderly people, and children) should be considered.


While designing an early warning system, one must ensure the following are considered effectiveness of the system: The system is structures to ensure that the early warning messages reach the last and most vulnerable person of the community The early warning messages should help to reduce disaster risks and be beneficial for saving human, physical and financial capital of the community Proper management of the resources to ensure they are used in the most appropriate way
For any established Community Based Early Warning Systems (CBEWS) to function properly means it should be managed efficiently and be effective in protecting life and property during the time of the disaster. The efficiency of any CBEWS can be assessed by following: Prompt and effective decision making policies and systems in place to achieve its objectives? Community understanding and perception about the immediate danger should be clear and appropriate. Timely dissemination of early warning messages and response.
Does the system address human justice? Are the voices of the most vulnerable people in the community heard? Are the special needs of the women, elderly people, people with disabilities and children considered and addressed?
The community people take the early warning message authentic and interpret properly to cope with the situation and make responses. EWS could be adopted and developed as common practice and culture of the community. Legitimacy of any CBEWS can be assessed by following: Are the early warning messages accepted by the community or end users? Are there any possibilities of issuing the wrong early warning messages? Does the community respond to the early warnings? Are the local knowledge/traditional early warning practice accepted by the systems?