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Watch to safeguard

Watch to safeguard

Information and early warning systems on food and nutrition security and transboundary threats

The 4 pillars of FAO's resilience strategy

  1. Enable the environment
  2. Watch to safeguard
  3. Apply risk and vulnerability reduction measures
  4. Prepare and respond

Early warning systems detect, forecast and, when necessary, issue alerts relating to impeding hazards. The alerts effectively contribute to risk reduction and are based on information of possible impacts on the agriculture sector and provide advice on what farmers can do to reduce the risk of a disaster. The alerts are communicated clearly to vulnerable people to facilitate immediate actions for better preparedness, response and prevention.

FAO’s early warning systems include:

  • The Global Information and Early Warning System (GIEWS) on food and agriculture provides the most up-to-date and independent information on food supply and demand, including:
    • Food security monitoring for early warning of a crisis, including crop and food supply assessment missions, usually with WFP.
    • Regular updates through the bimonthly publication Crop Prospects and Food Situation, special alerts and other country updates.
    • GIEWS workstation — an information management tool to handle remote sensing of agricultural areas, GIS and data.
  • The Emergency Prevention System for Transboundary Animal and Plant Pests and Diseases (EMPRES) seeks to detect, prevent, contain and control food safety hazards as well as the world most serious transboundary livestock and plant pests and diseases, while also surveying for newly emerging pathogens.
  • The Fishery Resources Monitoring System (FIRMS), which provides information on the global monitoring and management of fishery marine resources.
  • The Global Forest Fire Information Management System (GFIMS), which provides real-time monitoring of forest fires around the world.

FAO is also an important partner in joint early warning systems including:

  • The Global Early Warning and Response System for major animal diseases (GLEWS) is a joint system that combines and coordinates the alert and disease intelligence mechanisms of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), FAO and the World Health Organization (WHO) to assist in prediction, prevention and control of animal disease threats, including zoonoses.

For example, early warning alerts, such as the ones issued by GIEWS globally, or the Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit (FSNAU) for Somalia, contribute to an early mobilization from Governments and Organizations for early action to prevent humanitarian disasters such as widespread famine or massive population displacements. Some early warning systems (Tsunami or flood alerts) may also give advance warning to populations so they can evacuate the disaster area and/or prepare for the shock.

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