The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), together with German Red Cross (GRC), have unveiled a forecast-based approach within the humanitarian system. This was reported by WFP in December 2015. The new approach will release funds for disaster preparedness and response before the crisis occurs while providing the necessary funds for resilience building activities.
WFP’s Food Security Climate Resilience Facility (FoodSECuRE) will shift the humanitarian model from a reactive system to one that looks forward and saves more lives, time and money. Both FoodSECuRE and a Red Cross project in Uganda – one in a range of Red Cross-Red Crescent forecast-based financing pilot projects – have been activated in recent weeks to meet climate-related disasters, the dramatic predictions of El Niño and extreme weather.
A forecast-based system could save lives and money
A 2015 FoodSECuRE analysis in Sudan and Niger shows that using a forecast-based system would lower the cost of the humanitarian response by 50 percent.
FoodSECuRE unlocks funds before disasters, but also ensures that funds are available between cycles of disasters, because only through reliable, multi-year funding will vulnerable people build their resilience to the effects of climate change.
In Guatemala and Zimbabwe, funds have been released through FoodSECuRE in areas where drought risk is high due to El Niño. Farmers have been trained to grow drought-resistant crops and to change their agricultural practices to conserve both soil and water, so that even if the harvest is bad, people will still have food on the table.
FoodSECuRE blends scientific forecasting mechanisms with flexible long-term financing that helps people build their resilience.
Several pilot projects of this new approach around the world
The Red Cross/Red Crescent has seven operational pilot projects of this new approach around the world.
In Uganda, funds were released from a novel German Red Cross (GRC) preparedness fund to allow the Uganda Red Cross to distribute items based on a flood forecast. With a few days’ anticipation of rising water levels, Red Cross volunteers distributed water purification tablets and flood protection items to hundreds of vulnerable families. This is part of a project funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.
The German Federal Foreign Office’s Action Plan on Climate, coordinated by the GRC, centres on forecast-based financing pilots by WFP or National Societies in Bangladesh, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Mozambique, Nepal, Peru and the Philippines.