In May 2019, the city of Geneva in Switzerland hosted two major events in the context of disaster risk reduction. On the one hand, the 2nd Multi-hazard Early Warning Conference (MHEWC-II), which took place from May 13 to 14, at WMO headquarters and the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction (GPDRR 2019), organized by UNDRR from May 15 to 17 at the International Conference Center Geneva (CICG).
Through the Early Warning Systems Young Professionals Network (EWS-YPN), the Climate Risk and Early Warning Systems (CREWS) Secretariat decided to provide full funding for the participation of two young professionals in the field of early warning systems at MHEWC-II and GPDRR 2019. After a selection process, Fatiman Alher (Maptic-Niger Executive Director) and Rollis Jiofack (Former consultant for the CREWS-Burkina Faso project) were chosen for this great adventure to exchange their knowledge and experience on Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and Early Warning Systems (EWS).
It goes without saying that their contribution did not go unnoticed. Firstly at the MHEWC-II, through the organization of the side event #2 which had the topic “Bridging disciplines and building networks to future proof MHEWS- A young professionals perspective“. During this session, it was emphasized and highlighted that for a better approach of Early Warning Systems (EWS), it is essential to have a strong interdisciplinary connection. We could, therefore, perceive the EWS not as a concept to be put in place by the hydrological and meteorological services but as a hub also bringing together other areas of expertise such as sociology, geology, geography, scientific research, humanitarian, communication networks and many others.
As Young Professionals, how can we make this Interdisciplinary working happen?
“We need to teach students to see the connection between vulnerability/ exposure and hazards for effective EWS (impact based), that could be the next step for MapTic – Niger”
– Fatiman Alher
“Young professionals need to use their motivation and energy to take baby steps to work towards more collaboration / partnership / data-sharing which is strongly needed in places like Burkina Faso (e.g. interdisciplinary teams and collaborative research projects). The young professionals network is important for sharing these experiences and maintaining motivation”
– Rollis Jiofack
In addition, at the GPDRR 2019, they also had the opportunity to lead a session training other youth on how to participate in a mapathon using the HOT Tasking Manager Platform. The participants of the session had the chance to learn how to map roads, buildings and water points in the Mozambique areas affected by cyclones Idai and Kenneth. This aimed to provide more information and data to the civil protection service and local and international NGOs, in order to better respond to the crisis affecting the country. On the other hand, they conducted a crisis-setting activity and the creation of an EWS to reduce the population’s vulnerability to flooding along the Niger River. This activity mainly allowed them to identify the main components of an EWS and to identify the main stakeholders and their respective responsibilities before, during, and after the occurrence of disasters derived from natural hazards.
For both young professionals, it was a great experience to share knowledge on the different challenges and needs in disaster management, while learning about new opportunities, ideas and creating a professional network.