Reaching vulnerable communities faster: A hands-on exercise to explore how to improve information flows for humanitarian decision-makers
The ability to create climate hazard monitoring products has proliferated thanks to an increase in the availability of satellite data, the internet of things, other big data and the technology to analyze it. However, the ability to interpret and to ultimately use this data for measuring risk and impact on vulnerable populations remains a significant challenge. For example, in 2019, Cyclone Idai devastated Mozambique, creating almost as much damage as a cyclone in 2000 of the same magnitude.
Clearly, nearly 20 years of scientific advancements and development had not reduced the risk of the country. The ability to make difficult decisions on who to assist given finite resources is limited by a lack of actionable information which meets the needs of users, particularly data and information on vulnerable communities. To create effective systems for decision-makers, new interdisciplinary, user-centric research priorities and goals are needed to better deliver actionable information to decision makers. At the same time, given the limited response capacity in many disaster-prone countries, determining where to allocate resources requires a deeper understanding of the relationship between climate hazards and their consequences on vulnerable communities.
Key questions will be explored during this workshop to bring these topics into focus: Who are the decision makers at various levels and phases of the disaster cycle that are users of risk analysis and monitoring products? How can reliable risk information be communicated to them most effectively to protect lives and livelihoods? With limited resources available, who specifically is vulnerable to each of these hazards? How should data and information on vulnerable communities be presented to make them actionable? How can this information ultimately feed into decision support systems?
To demonstrate the critical value of actionable risk information focused on vulnerable communities, participants will take part in a disaster response scenario where a sudden onset shock requires immediate humanitarian response. With a limited amount of information, participants will need to decide where to allocate limited resources and to whom. Following the exercise, participants will revisit the information needs and be asked to present their findings and defend the decisions made. Participants will be asked to reflect on how information could have been packaged earlier to allow for better decisions, and subsequently to better prepare for future disaster response.
This Focus Day event seeks to bring researchers and practitioners together to discuss pathways to operationalize vulnerability research and to bring human centered design principles to risk monitoring systems in order to increase the effectiveness of decision-makers to reach the most vulnerable communities impacted by weather-driven hazards.
Organizer: World Food Programme, Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific
Partner organization: Cloud to Street, Red Cross Climate Centre, International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI) at Columbia University