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The ‘triple dividend’ of early warning systems: evidence from Tanzania’s coastal areas

Working paper

Written by Emily Wilkinson

Working paper

Early warning systems (EWSs) have been effective in reducing loss of life and injury associated with extreme weather events, but it is less clear what influence they have on other household decisions. Some research has identified increased productivity in rainfed farming from using weather and climate information, but much less is known about fishing communities, where livelihoods also depend heavily on the weather.

This paper begins to fill this gap by examining the range of socio-economic benefits associated with improvements in EWSs in coastal areas of Tanzania, including for fishing communities and the marine sector. It uses the Triple Dividend of Resilience (TDR) framework, developed by ODI, the World Bank and the London School of Economics, to capture the direct, indirect and co-benefits of investments in disaster risk reduction.

Key messages

  • Improving the communication of extreme weather information in Tanzania through the Multi Hazard Early Warning Service (MHEWS) project has helped to reduce mortality and property damage when storms and floods hit.
  • Evidence from a study in the coastal region of Tanga suggests that there are other ‘co-benefits’ from investment in early warning systems. Fishermen and seaweed farmers are better able to plan their economic activities, and some have seen a rise in income.
  • However, lower levels of risk from better preparedness do not appear to have encouraged higher levels of saving and investment because of other limiting factors – fishermen are poor with little capacity to save without access to microfinance.
  • The TDR framework can help to identify the full range of benefits associated with functioning EWSs, strengthening the business case for making these and associated investments.
Maria Apergi, Emily Wilkinson and Margherita Calderone