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W4CCA: Building a Flood Early-Warning Network

Program Year: 2018

By Paula Uniacke and Aditya Pillai

The Asia Foundation’s Paula Uniacke and Aditya Pillai participated in Global Climate Action Summit events across San Francisco in September. Among Foundation programs they discussed are ones that improve resilience to extreme weather events.

In two flood-prone regions along the India-Bangladesh border, The Asia Foundation is working with local women to build flood early warning networks in their communities. The Women for Climate Change Adaptation project (W4CCA), funded by the Foundation’s Lotus Circle, trains them to develop local flood-response plans and helps them engage with local institutions to improve emergency decision-making and resilience. Currently, government flood warnings in the region are not location specific and can be difficult for communities to interpret. This makes it hard to respond quickly and effectively when floodwaters threaten, increasing flood damage and risking people’s lives.

The W4CCA networks will use local data to establish village-specific flood thresholds in project locations. When these thresholds are breached, text messages will alert designated W4CCA leaders, who will activate the flood-response plan in the broader W4CCA network and members’ personal networks in the community. By virtue of their social positions, women often have extensive social networks. With effective training and technical tools, they are well situated to broadly disseminate critical and time-sensitive information. The W4CCA early-warning networks will create important leadership roles for women while better protecting them and their communities from floods.

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