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Forecast Early Warning Systems, the Backbone of Effective Disaster Management in South Africa
Changes in rainfall patterns, rising sea-levels, population growth and economic activity are driving an increase in demand for flood risk forecasting and possible mitigation engineering. Engineers and government authorities carry a huge responsibility to mitigate the impacts of disasters to our communities. A solid operational flood management system will allow for effective and efficient response to flooding, avoiding damage and saving lives. Disaster Management Centres should continuously remain innovative in seeking solutions and most important, be able to react real time. In this context, EThekwini Municipality Coastal Management Unit in partnership with MILE hosted its Inaugural Master Class on Forecast Early Warning Systems (FEWS) from 1-3 August 2017 at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban. 

EThekwini Municipality has a semi-functional system, and in the spirit of learning and knowledge sharing, is assisting municipalities to build effective early warning systems for disasters. This Policy Implementation Dialogue (PIDS) was facilitated by MILE and saw technical and disaster management practitioners from South African municipalities, the National Disaster Management Centre, the KZN Disaster Management Centre, South African Weather Service (SAWS), Umgeni Water and the CSIR in active participation.  Led by officials from The EThekwini Municipality Coastal Management Unit, the University of Delft and Deltares from the Netherlands shared the importance of a Forecast Early Warning System (FEWS) which is an expert data handling and model integration software for flood forecasting, drought and seasonal forecasting, and real time water resources management system.
The City has implemented a Forecast Early Warning system (FEWS) approach, which is based on open source software system currently implemented in over 35 countries with the USA, England & Wales and the Netherlands using it as the national and official flood forecasting system. 

Mr. Matthijs Lemans from Deltares expanded on the route eThekwini took to build and adopt the system and expressed the need for all partners in this space to partner with municipalities.  

“Our Interest is to bring the FEWS Science into operation. We want to bridge the gap to add more science into the practice. We are always looking for added value. At the end we want practitioners to become owners of the system. We bring fourth innovative ways and models to assist in Forecast Early Warning Systems, said Lemans

The team of experts from the City’s Coastal Management Unit showcased the success with FEWS and expressed their commitment to share with other municipalities the lessons learned so far on setting up FEWS systems towards effective management of disasters. 

Full participation in the Course earned participants 2.5 CPD (Continuous Professional Development Points) from the Institute of Municipal Engineers South Africa (IMESA).  

Although overwhelmed by the route ahead, participants left the Master Class empowered and inspired with a better understanding of how to build their own local Early Warning Systems, and were able to set up their basic systems for their localities.

The presence of the National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC) was key to ensure that this session was successful.

“The course provided insights into the capabilities that FEWS could contribute towards data management and the generation of early warnings. The NDMC is encouraged by the progress of eThekwini Metro in the development of early warning systems and is looking forward to future outputs in this respect,” said Mark Van Staden, Manager NDMC. 

In moving forward the team will create a user group for all participants to interact and engage on how to start their own improve Early Warning Systems towards a common goal for effective disaster management in South Africa.

“You can have the best systems for responding to disasters, but ensuring that our local municipalities and communities are well prepared, armed with the right, timeous and reliable information is the most critical,” said Mr Randeer Kasserchun, Deputy Head, Coastal Management Unit.  ​

View Event Photo Album

Download Presentations below: 


 Presentations: FEWS Master Class

Delft-FEWS_Matthijs Lemans.pdf
03/08/2017 15:30Janice Moodley Ethekwini
Development of a forecast early warning system.pdf
03/08/2017 09:00Janice Moodley Ethekwini
FEWS Master Class Programme.pdf
03/08/2017 09:02Janice Moodley Ethekwini
FEWS Master Class-Contact Details.pdf
03/08/2017 09:04Janice Moodley Ethekwini
Introduction to Deltares and the Delft-FEWS platform (2).pdf
03/08/2017 12:53Janice Moodley Ethekwini
Introduction to Deltares and the Delft-FEWS platform.pdf
02/08/2017 14:42Janice Moodley Ethekwini
Telemetry Systems.pdf
03/08/2017 12:50Janice Moodley Ethekwini
The Atmosphere as a Boundary.pdf
02/08/2017 14:39Janice Moodley Ethekwini
Understanding Limitations of Numerical Models.pdf
03/08/2017 09:01Janice Moodley Ethekwini
Understanding Your Environment.pdf
03/08/2017 09:02Janice Moodley Ethekwini

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