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UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education, Delft (2020)

A review of the effectiveness of drought warning communication and dissemination in Malawi

Calvel, Alexia

Titre : A review of the effectiveness of drought warning communication and dissemination in Malawi

Auteur : Calvel, Alexia

Université de soutenance : UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education, Delft

Grade : Master of Science (MS) 2020

Droughts constitute a major and complex natural hazard that may lead to food insecurity due to the typically long-term and cumulative impacts, compounded by the difficulty of droughts being predicted. Efforts to improve early warning systems purport to help reduce the impacts caused by drought events, and although significant advances have been made in the forecasting of drought, provision of actionable warning that leads to effective response is challenging due to a range of factors. This study aims to improve the understanding of how effective is the drought warning communication and dissemination in Malawi. The methodology is based on five focus group discussions with farmers and 25 semi-structured interviews with various government officials, as well as with representatives from UNDP, WFP and NGOs. The analysis of these interviews and discussions is based on a qualitative approach using the concepts of coding and human decision-making processes to better understand the organisational structure, communication processes and the ability of warnings triggering actions by farmers and NGOs. Findings showed that there is a drought early warning dissemination and communication process in place that is being developed through a value chain approach. Furthermore, drought warnings are disseminated along with other climate information designed to enhance food production and improve farming practices. Regarding the integration of farmers in the design of drought warnings, findings on the differences in drought perceptions and the absence of local knowledge in the drought warning information clearly demonstrated that farmer’s participation is limited. However, results on the use of drought warnings by farmers, showed that farmers are receptive to the guidance provided on the type of farming activities to carry out but that the decision to when to conduct these activities is mainly based on the local knowledge. The reason outlined by farmers is linked to a lack of accessibility on the weather updates. In general, it was found that drought warnings have fostered an adequate early action thanks to the adoption of people-centred measures. For NGOs and UN agencies, this research outlined the high involvement of these actors in the drought early warning system, and that their early action is mainly linked to famine early warnings that include drought conditions. Overall, progress has been made in meeting the requirements for a people-centred early warning. However, the lack of active engagement of farmers in the drought warning design, and external challenges such as a lack of local funds, which has led to a high dependency on donors, or the frequent changes of government officials affect the well-development and sustainability of such an approach.

Sujets  : early warning systems drought drought management Malawi


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