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New Hazards Calendar Wins Converts

The new hazard calendar brings together a wealth of data to help aid agencies and NGOs be better prepared for seasonal emergencies like floods. Copyright:WFP/Bangladesh

A new calendar has been developed by WFP to help better prepare for food-related emergencies. It works by combining the most authoritative data on seasonal hazards like floods, droughts, pests and cyclones with information about crop cycles and weather patterns.

ROME—If you prepare for emergencies, respond to them or design recovery programmes – if you work for a UN agency or an NGO – there is a new tool available to help you.

WFP’s Seasonal and Hazards Calendar is the result of months of methodical research and road-testing by Valentina Signori of WFP’s Emergency Preparedness and Response Branch. It is an easy-to-use calendar that will help inform decision making for programme officers and emergency response teams alike.

Hazard Calendar

An interactive online version of the Calendar will soon allow users to access historical data and reference sources. A PDFversion of the calendar is available for download in the meantime.

How it works

If one particular region of a country is threatened by a cyclone, for example, you can easily see at a glance what crops may be damaged, and a quick click on a brightly coloured text box tells you how many people have been affected in the past by similar events and where.

In its pilot phase, the Calendar was the basis for preparedness planning in Haiti ahead of the last hurricane season.

Valentina says that she took a “back to basics approach” to developing the calendar. “I threw out every source from our previous calendar, only allowing each one back in when its accuracy, reliability and usefulness had been thoroughly checked and analysed.”

Valentina then looked for new sources, especially ones which allowed information to be cross-checked, while keeping a big question at the front of her mind – “How appealing and easy to use is it?”

Winning praise

The calendar has just been shared within the humanitarian community, and that warm response has extended beyond WFP. The International Rescue Committee says it is an “excellent resource…it will save much time and duplication of work when an emergency hits”.

The Geneva-based consortium ACAPS (Assessment Needs Capacities Project) says it has been “looking for a document like this for years”, while UNICEF and the International Medical Corps have both shared the Calendar with their teams in the field.

The US government has also brought it into its preparedness and planning process for allocating funding and resources.

For more information contact HQ.Situation.Room@wfp.org