The Critical Importance of EWS
About 12 million Brazilians were affected by different disasters between 1994 and 2003 and over 2,000 people perished as a consequence of floods or droughts. From 2008 to present, over 2,000 people have perished in mudslides and flash floods. Such alarming numbers rank Brazil as the country with the largest number of people affected by natural disasters in the Americas.
The vast territorial extent and large population of Brazil renders it vulnerable to a variety of natural disasters depending on the region (e.g., severe storms, torrents, flash floods, landslides, droughts, wildfires, gales, hail, coastal storm surges). The resulting catastrophic conditions take a toll on hundreds of thousands to millions of people every year besides damages to property, infrastructure, and other valuable assets.
Frequently, due to lack of early warning, government actions are typically taken after the event has occurred. In the absence of an early warning system, and the resulting inability to prevent and mitigate the damage, government authorities and the society are limited to attenuating its consequences and often with very limited information to guide proper resource allocation to address the consequences.
Open Innovation Program Objectives
In this context, PSI in a collaborative R&D partnership with CEMADEN/MCTI and with support from a Technical Cooperation agreement between CAF - Development Bank of Latin America and PSI has conceived the Brazil EWS program to accomplish the following broad objectives:
• Significantly expand and enhance understanding of the geospatial extent of past natural disasters as a first step towards improving insights on high risk and high vulnerability areas and the nature of risks
• Develop and integrate models and analytical approaches across key risk types to improve fidelity of risk assessment and characterization in identified priority areas and municipalities
• Enhance capabilities across incident response, land use planning, resource allocation, and logistics, to enable proactive planning and execution to help mitigate/manage emerging risks
• Provide insights into the impacts of natural disasters on the Amazon basin (especially on land use change with regard to its forests) – given its critical importance to the integrity of not just local but also global climate as well as environment (biodiversity, water availability, carbon sequestration, etc.)
• Assist in the facilitation of dialogue and scenario analysis within and between multiple governmental, not-for-profit, and private R&D agencies for analyzing the evolving situation and craft holistic, effective, and efficient decision making tools towards preventing and/or minimizing the impact of natural disasters
• Develop components in such a manner that they can be replicated to other countries in Latin America subsequent to the initial R&D prototyping in Brazil