Saving Lives: Ensemble-Based Early Warnings in Developing Nations

  • Feyera A. Hirpa
  • Kayode Fagbemi
  • Ernest Afiesimam
  • Hassan Shuaib
  • Peter Salamon
Reference work entry


Natural disasters disproportionately affect the developing nations due to the lack of effective early warning systems. In this chapter, we present the need, challenges, and opportunities of early warning systems in developing nations for decision making in disaster risk management and demonstrate the added value of ensemble forecasting in particular in data- and infrastructure-scarce regions. First, we review the global extent of flood and drought disaster damages in the last few decades on human lives and the economy and demonstrate that a disproportionately high rate of death (per event) occurred in developing regions, where there is no (or ineffective) operational early disaster warning systems. Next, we present the everyday needs and challenges of preparing for and responding to natural disasters in Nigeria, a typical developing country with fragmented data infrastructure and limited national early warning system capability. Particularly, we share experiences from the most recent major flood disaster and demonstrate a potential value of ensemble-based flood early warnings, using streamflow forecasts from the Global Flood Awareness System (GloFAS).

However, forecasting of disasters alone is not sufficient if the information is not translated into actionable advice at a local community level. This is particularly important for ensemble forecasting which requires training for the forecasters as well as the receiving authorities. In order to achieve this, technical knowledge and communication infrastructure are needed to deliver the early warning information to the relevant communities and concerned authorities. Multi-stakeholder partnerships bringing together scientific community, policy, and decision makers and end users from international to local level could facilitate humanitarian aid organizations, and decision makers understand and use the ensemble predictions on timely basis before, during, and after disaster strikes. The chapter concludes with highlighting the multi-stakeholder partnership initiatives on floods (Global Flood Partnership (GFP)) and droughts (Integrated Drought Management Programme (IDPM)), established with the common goal of reducing flood and drought risk across the globe.


Ensemble forecasting Early warning Risk reduction Disaster response Global Flood Partnership Integrated Drought Management Programme 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Feyera A. Hirpa
    • 1
  • Kayode Fagbemi
    • 2
  • Ernest Afiesimam
    • 3
  • Hassan Shuaib
    • 4
  • Peter Salamon
    • 1
  1. 1.European Commission, Joint Research Centre (JRC)Institute for Environment and Sustainability (IES), Climate Risk Management UnitIspraItaly
  2. 2.National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA)AbujaNigeria
  3. 3.Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet)AbujaNigeria
  4. 4.University of AbujaAbujaNigeria

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