Monday, 23 December 2013

Role of ICTs in Early Warning of Climate-Related Disasters: A Sri Lankan Case Study

By Kanchana Wickramasinghe
IPS Researcher 

Need for an effective disaster early warning system for Sri Lanka was re-emphasised during the devastative storm which caused a number a deaths, a couple of months ago. The frequency and intensity of natural disasters in Sri Lanka including cyclones, floods and landslides are on an increasing trend, due to the impacts of global climate change (Ministry of Environment, 2010).  While a number of strategies are necessary to address growth in climate-related natural disasters, an effective early warning system can play a crucial role in lessening the probable negative impacts.

The traditional ways of disseminating disaster early warnings in Sri Lanka have been through radio and television, military forces and early warning towers.  However, during a disaster situation, there may be constraints in delivering the message, as mass media channels are not always switched on and the other approaches have limited reach.  Recent developments have shown that the information and communication technologies (ICTs) can be used effectively to disseminate disaster information.  However, developing countries in most of the cases are faced with resource constraints for the establishment and implementation of disaster early warning systems.