Department of Sustainable Development


Evaluation of cases

This evaluation identifies the benefits, opportunities and limitations of each of the Early Warning Systems introduced in this First Series of the Virtual Forum.

It is clear that the main benefit identified in this First Series of the Virtual Forum is to facilitate timely and precise warnings that give communities the opportunity to make the most of the time available to implement the emergency plans in place to reduce the number of human casualties.

There are other benefits that, although secondary, also have a significant impact.  Among them, a reduction of economic losses for families due to the fact that there is sufficient time to protect some material and immaterial assets (pets, domestic appliances, important documents, family keepsakes, etc.)

The Early Warning Systems introduced also make it possible to reduce losses in the productive sector of the economy by allowing people the time to move machinery, inputs and animals to safer locations.

During the last few years, there have been a number of hydro-meteorological events that claimed a considerable number of lives.  Thus, international partnerships are targeting their efforts toward the development of early warnings. Governments have also expressed their concern with this situation and, although that concern is not reflected in their national budgets, they are paying more attention to the subject with each passing day.

Budget allocations to the agencies responsible for risk management in countries with impoverished economies are very small due to more pressing needs.  This becomes a serious limitation to the development of the technical and institutional capacity that will lead to the systematic implementation of Early Warning Systems.

The cost of designing, operating and maintaining centralized early warning systems is a serious limitation to their development in countries with limited economic resources, due to the small budgets allocated to the institutions responsible for putting the systems in place.

In the three cases introduced, the technical and economic resources necessary to develop the systems were available because the Rio Cabra Early Warning System was designed by a private firm and is operated jointly with the National Civil Protection System. With regard to the Susquehanna River, San Antonio River and Cibilo River Early Warning Systems, those systems were developed with state of the art technology and had all the resources necessary for design, operation and maintenance.


Each of the cases introduced is describe and analyzed below, with the goal of identifying the technical requirements of each EWS; the public policy requirements; and the benefits, limitations and opportunities to replicate and/or transfer the system.


Case 1:
Floods in the Río Cabra Basin
This system was designed in response to floods that occurred in September 2004, which affected 25 communities, claimed 12 lives, completely destroyed 6 houses, partially damaged 700 homes and affected some 3,000 persons in the communities of Prados del Este, El Pantanal, Nueva Esperanza Arriba, Nueva Esperanza Abajo, Montería, Palo Alto, Tocumen and many other small towns along the Río Cabra.
More >>


Case 2:
Susquehanna River (Pennsylvania)
and San Antonio River (Texas)

The Hydrologic Engineering Center of the US Army Corps of Engineers has developed a flood early warning and response system along approximately 177 kilometers (110 miles) of the Susquehanna River in northeast Pennsylvania, and on 161 kilometers (100 miles) along the San Antonio River and on 64 kilometers (40 miles) of the Cibilo River, a tributary of the San Antonio River.
More >>


Case 3:
Early Warning System
In the context of natural disasters, Early Warning Systems (EWS) are playing an important role by reducing losses and the number of casualties and, therefore, they are being designed and implemented all over the world. In general, EWS can be considered measures that are part of three components: institutions, technology and civil society.
More >>