Forecast-based financing, forecast-based action, early warning early action and other anticipatory action approaches are gaining increasing traction with donors, humanitarian agencies and disaster risk managers as mechanisms for providing critical support to at-risk communities before disasters occur. These anticipatory actions are aimed at reducing or mitigating the impact of disasters and enhancing postdisaster response, using forecasts or early warnings of imminent shock or stress. Anticipatory action can help save lives, reduce human suffering, offset some of the economic impacts of disasters, improve the effectiveness of emergency preparedness, response and recovery efforts, and reduce reliance on ad hoc, slow and costly humanitarian aid after a disaster.
This paper, which was commissioned by the Centre for Disaster Protection, outlines the current state of anticipatory action and discusses some of the existing evidence on its impact. It is not intended to provide a comprehensive literature review or a meta-analysis of the impacts of early warning or early action initiatives. Rather, it presents some examples of different types of impact associated with a range of anticipatory action in developing countries. This is in recognition of the diversity of anticipatory action mechanisms and variety of activities being implemented in different contexts, as well as the range of studies that have been carried out focusing on different outcomes. The paper also highlights evidence gaps and points out some of the methodological challenges in measuring impact.