PPRD South workshop: Preventing threats from turning into disasters in the Mediterranean Region
The assessment of risks and how to generate and communicate reliable predictions and effective warnings is the main focus of a workshop on “Early Warning System for Civil Protection: from early detection of threats to timely alerts to citizens” organised by the EU-funded PPRD South Programme in Arona, Northern Italy, from 17 to 19 January 2012.
A press release said 25 experts working for the Civil Protection Authorities and Scientific Organizations from the 13 Mediterranean and Balkan PPRD South Partner Countries are gathering on Lake Maggiore for this three-day workshop which will be opened by Peter Billing, Deputy Head of Unit for Emergency Response at the European Commission Directorate-General for Humanitarian Aid (ECHO) and Delilah Al Khudhairy, Head of Unit for Global Security and Crisis Management at the European Commission Joint Research Centre in Ispra.
The workshop will tackle the key role played by early warning and preparedness in preventing hazardous events turning into disasters.
In February 2010, the worst flash flooding event since 1994 hit Sinai in Egypt resulting in significant damage and seven deaths. Thanks to the EU-funded early warning system Flash Flood Manager monitoring the main valley of the Sinai Peninsula, the flooding could be predicted and casualties avoided.
In March 2011, an 8.9-magnitude earthquake hit Japan's North-Eastern coast. The world's first earthquake early warning system – developed by the country's meteorological agency – detected the quake's shock wave near the seismic centre and sent off the warning message, which appeared on national television and radio as well as cell phone screens, contributing to saving lives and critical infrastructures.
These are two examples of tools and techniques that the workshop participants will review for early detection and monitoring of potential hazards. They will be informed about recent improvements in the capacity to predict earlier and more accurately potential threats as well as in the possibility of reducing the degree of uncertainty associated with predictions and forecasts.
The workshop participants will also better understand the added value of a good collaboration with the scientific sector. They will also learn how to carefully evaluate and consider the costs of taking wrong decisions about “missed alarms” or “false alarms”.
At the end of the workshop, the participants will visit the crisis monitoring room and the research laboratories of the Joint Research Centre in Ispra, where they will experience how growing scientific understanding of hazardous phenomena and advanced use of modern information and communication technologies contribute to save lives and properties.
The €5 million PPRD South Programme – which runs for three years and is managed by a consortium led by the Italian Civil Protection Department together with the French, Algerian, Egyptian Civil Protection Authorities and the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) – is also organising training workshops dealing with risks in the region such as wild fires, technological disasters, floods, earthquakes, epidemics and drought, among others. (ENPI Info Centre)