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NEWS: New report on ‘triple dividend’ of early warning systems in Tanzania’s coastal areas

Early warning systems for severe weather in coastal Tanzania can do more than save lives and property – they can help people boost their economic productivity too, according to a new study from Weather and Climate Information Services in Africa (WISER).

Researchers have launched a new report on how early warnings of severe weather in Tanzania can reduce damage and provide socio-economic benefits to the targeted communities.

The report by Maria Apergi, Emily Wilkinson and Margherita Calderone entitled The ‘triple dividend’ of early warning systems: evidence from Tanzania’s coastal areas helps to fill a gap in understanding how these warning systems can help fishing communities, who depend heavily on the weather for their livelihoods.

The research used the Triple Dividend of Resilience framework to map the benefits of severe weather alerts. The Triple Dividend framework (Tanner et al, 2015) is used by researchers and development practitioners to describe the economic benefits of investing in disaster risk reduction (DRR).

The Triple Dividend framework enables an assessment of:
(1) Avoiding losses when disasters strike;
(2) Stimulating economic activity thanks to reduced disaster risk; and
(3) Development co-benefits, or uses, of a specific DRR investment.

The researchers used the framework to assess the effectiveness of Tanzania’s Multi Hazard Early Warning Service (MHEWS). MHEWS established an impact-based five-day weather forecast service for coastal areas in Tanzania, as well as a series of alerts. The project improved the communication of extreme weather warnings by introducing the use of pictorial symbols and colour-coding, and by providing information on the potential impacts of adverse weather.

All these communications were co-produced with community members and other national and local stakeholders, so that they would be well known and understood in the target communities.

As a result of the study, Apergi et al. found:

  • Improved communication of extreme weather information to fishing communities through MHEWS has helped to reduce mortality and property damage when storms and floods hit (the first resilience dividend).
  • Evidence from a study in the coastal region of Tanga suggests that there are other ‘co-benefits’ from investment in early warning systems. For example, fishermen are able to use the forecasts to plan their economic activities: they can go further out to sea and for longer (knowing they will not be affected by adverse weather) and catch larger quantities of fish (the third resilience dividend).
  • However, lower levels of risk from better preparedness do not appear to have encouraged higher levels of saving and investment (the second resilience dividend for ‘stimulating economic activity’ due to reduced risks). The most likely explanation is that disaster risk is only one obstacle preventing people from investing in other, potentially profitable activities. Fisherfolk with low incomes are unlikely to have access to microfinance and other financial services.

The Triple Dividend framework can help to identify the full range of benefits associated with functioning early warning systems.

This study has important findings in its own right and also demonstrates the usefulness of applying the Triple Dividend framework to other projects. This includes the potential for Triple Dividend-based assessments to strengthen the business case for investments in early warning systems and other DRR interventions in the future.

Read the report in full :

The ‘triple dividend’ of early warning systems: evidence from Tanzania’s coastal areas

 

Image: fisherman, Tanzania, Alex Berger, flickr

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