Community Based Flood Early Warning System (CBFEWS) has comprehensively solved the problem of the “the last kilometer” of flash flood defense, and achieved the goal of “not leaking one household and not leaving one person”. The system is composed of simple rain gauging and alarming station, simple water level gauging and alarming station, indoor alarm, early warning information screen, flood control broadcast and wireless relay station.
A wide range of information is produced to support multi-scale disaster risk reduction (DRR) systems using satellite rainfall estimation, satellite altimetry based flood early warning systems, flood inundation modelling, and model derived hydrological information. Whereas, Community Based Flood Early Warning System (CBFEWS) enabled by wireless technology is one of the promising interventions for minimizing flood risk at the community level.
What is community based flood early warning system (CBFEWS)?
UNEP defines early warning as “the provision of timely and effective information, through identified institutions, that allows individuals exposed to hazard to take action to avoid or reduce their risk and prepare for effective response”. Early warning is defined by UNISDR as “the set of capacities needed to generate and disseminate timely and meaningful warning information to enable individuals, communities and organizations threatened by hazards to take necessary preparedness measures and act appropriately in sufficient time to reduce possibility of harms or losses”.
Community based flood early warning system (CBFEWS) is an integrated system of tools and plans managed by and for communities, providing real-time flood warnings to reduce flood risks. CBFEWS is based on people-centered, timely, simple and low-cost technology. It disseminates information to the vulnerable communities downstream through a network of communities and government bodies. A properly designed and implemented system can save lives and reduce property loss by increasing the lead time to prepare and respond to flood on ground level.
Key elements of CBFEWS
The United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) Platform for the Promotion of Early Warning has identified four key elements for a complete and effective early warning system. Based on UNISDR’s four key elements, CBFEWS has also defined four key elements for its implementation. An isolated approach cannot make the CBFEWS successful. It is important to understand that these four elements are interrelated and failure in one element can result in failure of the entire system.
Features of CBFEWS
People-centered: All community members of the vulnerable groups and district government line agencies are involved in planning, implementing, monitoring, disseminating flood early warning information and taking the ownership of the system.
Low cost technology: The manufacturing, repair and maintenance of the system is done at the local level. The initial cost of the complete set of the instrument is approximately USD 1000 (as of May 2015).
Almost real-time information: The upstream communities generate information and pass it on to downstream communities as the water level rises in the river.
Points to Remember
Lead Time: The time between the warning and the actual arrival of the flood needs to be sufficient for preparedness.
Shelter Zone and Rescue Routes: Safe places and rescue routes must be identified in consultation with the local communities prior to the flood event.
Condition of Instrument: The instrument needs to be tested, updated and kept in fully operational and reliable condition.
Willingness of the communities: The community members need to be willing to act upon the early warning signals and made aware of the procedures.
- Complete System is Solar Power Based
- System uses wireless communication
- Within 5 Minutes of Heavy Rainfall or Raise in Stream Water Level, system generates Early Warning Alert and Siren in Community
- There are 4 different severity Level Alarms
- System also sends SMS messages to Disaster Management and other concerned authorities about Alert
- Views of Night vision camera focusing towards lake can be seen on Laptop at Community