ROME -- The new 'Pick and Mix' Early Warning service created by WFP’s Early Warning, Analysis and Support team allows WFP staff and partners in other agencies to personalize and customize exactly what information they receive.
The service, created by the team and its own in-house software engineer, is simple. All you have to do is subscribe (click HERE to subscribe) and make your Early Warning choices.
If, for example, you are interested in the countries which fall under one of WFP’s Regional Bureaux, then just select them. Or, if the focus of your work is a single country, then sign up for only that one. You may need to know about a specific hazard – such as when countries in a particular region will face the risk of flooding. A brand new interactive version of the team’s Seasonal and Hazards Calendar (see photo above right) will tell you what you need to know at the click of a mouse on a simple, clear coloured box. (Click HERE to give it a try)
Listen to the podcast
WFP Deputy Chief of Emergency Preparedness and Response Etienne Labande explains how the Early Warning Tool works in the latest episode of the Food Factor Podcast.
The Seasonal and Hazards Calendar has been very popular since team member Valentina Signori brought it into being just under a year ago. It brings together both seasonal information and historical data to allow the best preparedness activities possible. Other humanitarian agencies have exported it into their own planning and programming systems with one NGO calling it the “tool we have been waiting for all our lives!” This online interactive version also includes an extra country, the world’s newest – South Sudan. See Valentina presenting the calendar
Programme designers have already found the Calendar very useful in telling them the most productive – and least disruptive – times to carry out activities. Now, WFP’s Pandemic Response Unit is offering it to National Disaster Management Organisations in Africa to help them plan together the optimum times to do joint training in planning for and responding to very large scale emergencies, like a severe pandemic.
Etienne Labande, Deputy Chief of the Emergency Preparedness and Response Branch, says: “The Early Warning team led by Marion Cezard worked in fantastic collaboration with software engineer Maurizio Blasilli to make this happen. Technology is changing everything about how we collect and deliver such a key service in a world where there is a danger of missing important signals due to the daily deluge of information.”
'Pick and mix' Early Warning services include:
- “Key Dates Watch” - Highlighting events like elections which could affect operations (monthly)
- “Week Ahead” - Concentrating on sensitive areas which could have an impact on work and staff movements (every Friday)
- “On Watch” and “Warning” – Analytical briefs delivered automatically based on customized choices made. (situation-specific)
- “Morning Headlines” – Fast, concise worldwide humanitarian developments (daily)
- “Critical Elections Map” – coming soon in an interactive form.
What the users think...
Kevin Howley from WFP Logistics says that during the last La Nina and El Nino weather patterns Early Warning reports allowed himself and his then colleagues in WFP’s Regional Bureau in Bangkok to critically analyse project documents from affected WFP Country Offices in Asia. They could then better understand price increases within the region for staple foods such as rice. Kevin, now based in Rome, adds, “As the Logistics Cluster serves the whole humanitarian community, Early Warning information about elections and other key dates is very useful to prepare ahead of any likely population movements. The new, customized service will be even more helpful”.
Edward Johnson - Reporting Officer in the WFP Myanmar Country Office – is in a unique position in having been on the team which developed the Early Warning Tool and then having experienced Myanmar’s last cyclone season first hand. “I kept in close contact with my old colleagues on the Early Warning Team as they issued warnings and I could then see exactly how important it is to know what is likely to hit you! I could see emergency preparedness swing into action – with stocks being pre-positioned in well-located warehouses and a good system of NGO partners activated. Being able to select exactly what information I need in a country like Myanmar, which is prone to natural hazards, will really allow us to focus our efforts to combat such crises.”