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Climate extremes are a key driver of food insecurity. More frequent and intense floods, droughts and storms account for up to 90 percent of natural hazards worldwide. At the same time, the climate crisis is intersecting and compounding other drivers of hunger, including conflict and economic downturns. To successfully manage these interlocking problems and avert cascading humanitarian disasters, traditional humanitarian response systems need to evolve from crisis response to forward-looking risk management.

One of WFP's flagship programmes to manage climate-related risks is its Anticipatory Action (AA) for climate shocks programme, previously known as Forecast Based Financing (FbF). The AA programme is an innovative approach that enables the implementation and financing of actions before an extreme weather event has occurred. These anticipatory actions aim to prevent and mitigate – to the extent possible – the effects of extreme weather on the food security and nutrition of highly vulnerable people.

Launched in 2015, WFP’s AA portfolio now includes 28 countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America and the Caribbean. WFP, together with national and local government partners, is supporting the development of early-warning systems and anticipatory actions for critical natural hazards such as droughts, floods and cyclones. 

AA allows governments, communities and families to act days, weeks and sometimes even months before a climate shock occurs, mitigating the impact on food security, lives and livelihoods. To support this innovative approach, WFP works with governments, humanitarian agencies, NGOs, academia and others to build early-warning systems for anticipatory action against both gradual and rapid-onset hazards.

Through our diverse partnerships, WFP is committed to scaling up AA programmes. This will ensure that: communities receive humanitarian assistance days or even months before climate shocks hit; more people are reached; and communities are empowered to anticipate, prepare for and recover from climate shocks.

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Anticipatory Action map

WFP Early Warning Systems

WFP's Forecast-based Financing

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Success stories

WFP has successfully implemented Anticipatory Action, working with the national government and humanitarian partners including the Red Crescent Movement. AA was implemented before severe monsoon floods that devastated vulnerable communities in the country's northeast in 2020. WFP is scaling up its AA programme and can currently reach 350,000 people five days before a forecasted flood, using mobile money and early warning messaging. AA in Bangladesh has shown a positive impact on families' food security; 36 percent fewer people went a day without eating throughout the floods, when they received assistance.
WFP provides technical assistance to the Government of the Philippines to integrate AA within the National Disaster Risk Management Framework and social protection programmes. WFP can currently reach 125,000 people with multi-purpose cash transfers three days before a Category 4 or 5 typhoon makes landfall, and can provide last-mile, early-warning information. WFP is scaling up its AA approach in new geographical regions and in response to a range of hazards, as part of the 2022-2026 “Multi-Hazard Impact-Based Forecasting and Early Warning System (MH-IBF-EWS)” project funded by the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and co-implemented by the Government.
WFP is scaling up its AA programme and can currently reach 178,000 people with cash transfers and early-warning alerts in 23 highly flood-prone municipalities, 3 days ahead of a forecasted flood. A Return on Investment study in Nepal shows that AA is cost-efficient, as every dollar spent before a disaster strikes saves up to US$34 when compared to launching a response afterwards. WFP made its ever-fastest AA response in October 2021, responded to flash floods in four hours. Ninety-two percent of beneficiaries found the assistance prompt and used it to buy water and food (77 percent), to plan for their evacuation (42 percent) and to safeguard their houses (37 percent).
WFP is supporting government bodies, such as the National Institute for Disaster Risk Management and Reduction, the National Meteorology Institute and the Ministry of Agriculture, to implement an AA programme to strengthen their capacity to anticipate droughts. This includes enhancing the national early-warning system, based on seasonal forecast and monitoring. In 2021 – for the first time – anticipatory actions for four pilot districts were included in national contingency plans. Social protection was included in the design and implementation of early actions, linking cash transfers with pre-defined drought triggers, and identifying the most at-risk population groups before a disaster strikes.
Dominican Republic
WFP has implemented AA across Government institutions linked to disaster risk management, including forecasting and early-warning institutions, national response agencies and the social protection system. The AA approach has been integrated into the National Strategic Communication for Risk Management, and within national social protection programmes, to build their capacity to respond before forecasted floods and hurricanes. The AA approach is also being considered in the revision of the Disaster Risk Management Law and policies.
WFP has successfully implemented AA ahead of a forecasted poor rainfall season, to protect productive assets including livestock and to ensure food and nutrition security. Ahead of the March-May 2021 rainy season – which was predicted to be abnormally dry – WFP distributed cash transfers and early-warning messages to more than 14,600 vulnerable people, to protect productive assets and ensure food security in the face of deteriorating conditions. Results show that 95 percent of assisted people used the early-warning information to make decisions on how to mitigate the impending drought. Results of this intervention showed that cash combined with early warnings was more effective than cash alone. The warnings included advice on how to mitigate and reduce the effects of potential disasters. Assisted families reduced by 28 percent the use of harmful coping strategies which could affect their food security and had a significantly higher dietary diversity score.
The AA programme in Somalia was influenced by lessons learned from Ethiopia, particularly when anticipatory cash was combined with early-warning information. WFP in Somalia has been implementing anticipatory cash transfers and early-warning messaging, to ensure the most vulnerable people have the funds and knowledge they need to protect their lives and livelihoods from a forecast fourth consecutive dry season forecast for the region (March-May 2022). Through this AA intervention, WFP has introduced a new instrument to the national social protection system (Baxnaano) whereby anticipatory action aims to precede an anticipated shock or impending disaster. The programme has already reached 117,612 individuals across Hudur and Wajiid districts of Bakool.
WFP’s first AA activation in Southern Africa was implemented in Zimbabwe, reaching 32,500 people with over US$360,000 in AA funding. The activation took place in Mudzi department in September 2021. The district-level forecasts for the upcoming critical rainfall months (November-January) indicated that the moderate drought trigger was reached. WFP AA provided: - Access to adequate water supply to prevent possible production losses in areas with highest risk of drought through the installation of solar mechanized boreholes. - Critical climate information with actionable advisories for a potential below-average rainfall season. The AA programme is currently implemented across four districts (Mudzi, Mbire, Binga and Matobo), with plans to scale up to a further eight districts in the coming years.