What if we did not have to wait to until disaster has already hit to jump into action, but we already start taking action before and thus lower the impacts of the disaster? This is the idea on which Forecast-based Financing (FbF) has been developed. FbF is a mechanism which quickly releases humanitarian funding for planned activities based on forecasts for cyclones, extreme cold, floodings,… . These activities, so-called early actions, can enhance preparedness and response in the days or hours before the disaster. This can include distributing animal-care kits, handing out heavy coats and tarpaulins, providing water-purification tablets and jerrycans or transferring cash.
The Belgian Red Cross and CEBaP started collaborating with the Cruz Vermelha de Moçambique (CVM) and the German Red Cross (GRC) as well as the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre (RCCC) on such a FbF project in Mozambique, a country regularly hit by cyclones and floodings. . In the first phase of this research project, financially supported by the Directorate-General for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Aid (DGD) of the Belgian government, CEBaP assisted in the research on potential early actions by reviewing literature regarding the effectiveness of certain actions and the factors influencing their implementation. At the same time, data was collected on the impacts of the floods and cyclones and potential early actions to mitigate them; these were identified through extensive stakeholder and expert interviews in Mozambique by a research delegate from GRC.
This led to an expert meeting organized by the Mozambican Red Cross last month in the capital of Mozambique, Maputo. Participants included practitioners from CVM from the Maputo headquarters as well as from some of the provinces involved in the FbF project; government officials from amongst others the National Institute of Disaster Management, the Mozambique National Meteorology Institute and the National Directorate for the Management of Water Resources from both the national and the provincial levels; experts from several humanitarian organisations; and of course researchers and practitioners from German Red Cross, Belgian Red Cross and CEBaP. We extensively discussed the research findings and collected input from the participants on the feasibility and realistic implementation of the potential early actions. The researchers and the FbF team at CVM gathered a lot of new ideas to incorporate in the early action protocols that are currently under development. These early action protocols might need to be activated in the upcoming storm season. Hopefully not, but if they are, we will have developed a new evaluation framework by then so these early actions may be further improved upon in the future.