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UN puts latest natural disaster alerts at the click of a mouse

UN puts latest natural disaster alerts at the click of a mouse

Emergency agencies around the world can now get the latest forecasts and alerts on drought, floods, tropical storms, locust infestation, El Niño, earthquakes and volcanic activity under a new humanitarian early warning service launched today by the United Nations and its partners.

HEWSweb, conceived as the first global one-stop shop for early warning information, has dedicated pages for each of these natural hazards, including additional references and resources. In the near future, HEWSweb will also offer the opportunity to access and share information on socio-political crises.

“The HEWSweb service responds to the exceptional challenges now facing the UN and the humanitarian community in monitoring and anticipating crisis situations, which are increasingly greater in number, intensity and complexity,” the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said. “Hence the corresponding need for effective early warning systems and for early planning and preparedness.”

The site, whose homepage displays a “natural hazard map” of the world with the various risks facing specific countries and regions, is the brainchild of UN humanitarian agencies and partners of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC), a body that fosters enhanced interagency collaboration on humanitarian policy and operations.

It brings together and rationalizes under one platform the vast amount of information now available on the Internet from multiple specialized institutions.

The project is supported by a variety of partners including the FAO, the UN World Food Programme (WFP), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

Other partners include the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), as well as a consortium of international non-governmental organizations (NGOs).