Perera, D., Agnihotri, J., Seidou, O., & Djalante, R. (2020). Identifying Societal Challenges in Flood Early Warning Systems. International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, 101794.
Flood Early Warning Systems (FEWS) are implemented in many parts of the world, but early warnings do not always translate into an emergency response from all individuals at risk. This article examines challenges such as warning communication and community response capabilities. Literature review, global online survey results, and experiential knowledge helped identify cross-cutting issues such as failure to use participatory approaches involving communities and addressing their concerns in warning, insufficient preparedness and response levels of FEWS, inadequate translation of disaster risk reduction (DRR) policies into action at the community level, lack of DRR knowledge and practices among key stakeholders, insufficient gender and social inclusion in all stages of FEWS, gaps in institutional communication and collaboration, and, finally, technical and financial constraints. The paper also discusses the contribution of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in addressing the identified challenges and eventually strengthening FEWS locally. CSOs were found to act positively at local level challenges and significantly contribute to addressing them through tailored solutions to community concerns. Such solutions include DRR awareness campaigns to educate the communities and key officials; enhanced communication between vulnerable communities and local authorities; transforming reactive community response that relied on government officials to a risk-informed and self-prepared community response; gender inclusion and diversity in various stages of FEWS; and advocacy campaigns to build resilience to disasters. Eventually, policy-based recommendations that can help to root out the challenges discussed in this study are presented.