9 Dec 2021

Project launch: Application of disaster-loss data to support early warning and early action in Africa

This image shows submersion of crops
Submersion of crops, Photo by Zambia Red Cross Society

Impact data from past disasters is of paramount importance for the design and validation of trigger mechanisms for early action. This high-quality data is required to help anticipate the impacts, and effectively implement early actions, before a disaster strikes. However, technical, political and organizational challenges often hamper the development of a repository for disaster- loss data.

On 8 December 2021, at the 9th Global Dialogue Platform on Anticipatory Humanitarian Action, the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR), 510 – An Initiative of the Netherlands Red Cross, and the Anticipation Hub launched a new collaborative project, ‘Application of disaster-loss data in support of early warning and early action in African countries’

This project aims to support governments, disaster risk reduction practitioners and other stakeholders in Malawi, Mozambique, the United Republic of Tanzania, and Zambia, to increase the collection and application of data on disaster loss and risk information, which will inform and enable early warnings and early actions. This will build on UNDRR’s ongoing global initiative to set up and harmonize national disaster-loss databases on DesInventar.net

During the Global Dialogue Platform, Marc van den Homberg (510) shared information on the background and plans for the project. Next, Katarina Mouakkid Soltesova, a risk knowledge officer at UNDRR’s Regional Office for Africa, showcased the work of DesInventar.net. She stressed the importance of not only collecting data, but also utilising it as much as possible, for example by making it available to other stakeholders. 

Lenganji Sikona, department director of the Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit in Zambia, outlined the ‘Disaster damage and loss’ database for Zambia, highlighting that “damage and loss data help to raise awareness within the humanitarian community and, for us, to be proactive rather than reactive in our disaster risk reduction sectoral plans”. After outlining the associated challenges (e.g. data fragmentation, limited resources), he emphasized the importance of a collaborative multi-stakeholder approach for collecting and disseminating loss data.

"Because we are using a multi-sectoral approach, we have challenges in terms of data-quality standards and related aspects. But what we have learned … is that disseminating disaster-loss information to all the players allows for synergy in terms of understanding the characterization of damage and loss, and it helps to galvanize the response when it comes to multi-sectoral initiatives.”

Lenganji Sikona, department director of the Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit in Zambia

Other speakers included Arielle de Tozier de la Poterie (Anticipation Hub/German Red Cross), Wirya Khim (FAO) and Cecilia Utas (DEEP), who highlighted experiences on how to improve the use and quality of both qualitative and quantitative disaster-loss data for enhanced early warnings and early action at the country, regional and global levels.

You can read more about the new project in the 2-pager below. The Anticipation Hub will support the project by sharing lessons generated from the development of early action protocols for floods and cyclones in Mozambique, and helping to facilitate knowledge exchange with the anticipatory action community. In the coming months, a range of activities and workshops will support DRR stakeholders to apply loss data in the context of early warnings and early action. Please contact Marc van den Homberg for more information.