The people of Africa are exposed to a wide range of disasters. Early warning in the disaster context implies the means by which a potential danger is detected or and an alert issued. There are three abilities, which constitute the basis of early warning. The first, largely technical ability is to identify a potential risk, or the likelihood of occurrence of a hazardous phenomenon that threatens a vulnerable population. The second ability is that of identifying accurately the vulnerability of a population to whom a warning needs to be directed. The third ability, which requires considerable social and cultural awareness, is communication of information to specific recipients about the threat in sufficient time and with a sufficient clarity so that they take action to avert negative consequences.
In this issue, it is evident that disaster looms in the most subtle places, triggered by factors within and without. Various authors either give early warning signals or practical survival hints.