Forecast-based financing in Bangladesh – Phase II

Since 2015 the Bangladesh Red Crescent and the German Red Cross have been working on cyclone, flood, and heatwave protocols. The cyclone protocol supports the Bangladesh Government Cyclone Preparedness Programme and the flood protocol is also taken up by World Food Programme’s flood early action, expanding coverage to 20,000 people. The heatwave protocol is under development. The protocols have been activated four times—three times for floods in 2017, 2019 and 2020 and once for cyclones in 2020—making it the country with the greatest number of anticipatory activations to date.

The project seeks to reduce the humanitarian consequences of cyclones and floods in high risk areas and to ensure faster recovery in affected areas with a focus on loss of lives and livelihoods in coastal areas and the Jamuna river basin. 

Key facts

Start/end date     

Phase 1:
January, 2015 – June, 2017

Phase 2:
July, 2017 – August, 2020

Phase 3:
September, 2020 – December, 2022

Hazards covered    

Floods |Cyclones |Heat waves

Regions covered    

13 sea-facing coastal districts: Bagerhat, Barguna, Barishal, Bhola, Chattogram, Cox's Bazar, Feni, Khulna, Lakshmipur, Noakhali, Patuakhali, Pirojpur and Shatkhira

11 districts of Jamuna River Basin: Bogura, Rangpur, Lalmonirhat, Kurigram, Gaibandha, Tangail, Manikgonj, Sirajgonj, Jamalpur, Sherpur and Pabna

Early action sectors     

Evacuation Support | First Aid | Nutrition | Cash

Anticipatory action protocols/plans in place    



Heat waves


2017, 2019 and 2020


Population reached during activation

Flood: 5,800 in 2017, 5,400 in 2019 and 22,000 in 2020

Cyclone: Approx. 36,365 people in 2020

Key actors/implementing partners  

The protocols were developed by the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society, with technical support from the German Red Cross and the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre, the Bangladesh Meteorological Department and the Flood Forecasting and Warning Centre.

In the case of a cyclone activation, BDRCS and GRC work closely with the Cyclone Preparedness Programme. Flood activations are complemented by similar action from the Swiss Red Cross in Gaibandha and World Food Programme in Kurigram.

Project description

Given Bangladesh’s low-lying terrain and position on the Bay of Bengal and at the mouth of several large rivers that drain from the Himalayas, it is highly exposed to floods and cyclones. BDRCS’ protocols for floods and cyclones cover 13 coastal districts and 11 floodplain districts of the Jamuna river basin. 

Bangladesh has an extensive network of government evacuation shelters throughout the coastal districts of Bangladesh, however, consultations with vulnerable populations indicated that many do not evacuate because they are unable to afford transport or fear leaving their livelihood assets and belongings behind. Therefore, early actions for both protocols aim to encourage and support evacuation.  In the case of cyclones, evacuation is encouraged through the following actions:

  • Distribution of flattened rice, sugar, high energy biscuits and drinking water at community cyclone shelters.
  • Provision of first aid at cyclone shelters
  • Assistance with evacuation of people, their essential assets, and livestock to cyclone shelters using local tractors
  • Installation of artificial light at cyclone shelters to increase nighttime safety 

The cyclone protocol has only 30 hours of lead-time and is triggered when the Bangladesh Meteorological Department forecasts that a cyclone with wind speeds over 125km/h will make landfall. This threshold corresponds to a return period of five years. Shelter-based beneficiaries are then selected based on a combination of the forecast, exposure and a vulnerability index with priority given to unions where more than 25 percent of houses are likely to be at risk.    

The number of shelters in flood prone areas are insufficient compared to the need. But many of the schools are being used as shelters during the hazards. In the case of floods, evacuation is encouraged through the following actions:

  • Dissemination of early warnings to prompt people to evacuate before it becomes too dangerous
  • Distribution of unconditional cash grants of 4500 BDT (approximately USD 53). These grants are meant to help people evacuate or otherwise prepare for the floods, thereby reducing their losses.
  • Evacuation support for char areas through providing boats in the community

The flood EAP has two triggers. Preparatory actions begin if the 10-day forecast indicates a greater than 50 percent probability of a 10-year flood lasting more than three days. A full activation begins if the 5-day deterministic forecast confirms that floods are still imminent and that flooding will damage more than 25% of households’ assets or affect forty percent of the population. After the pre-activation trigger is reached, BDRCS volunteers collect household information in high-risk areas, and beneficiaries are then selected based upon pre-determined vulnerability criteria.

BDRCS coordinates closely with World Food Programme and others in the event of floods to prevent duplication and reach as many households as possible. Since 2020, BDRCS will also have the opportunity to reach an additional number of beneficiaries through UN OCHA’s CERF Promgramme.

Outcomes and lessons learnt

A quasi-experimental evaluation of the 2019 flood activation that provided 479 households in Kurigram with unconditional cash grants of approximately USD 53 for each household before the flood found that beneficiaries were less likely to sell their assets and livestock and less likely to lose livestock and stored food than who received assistance after the peak of the floods.  


Only Red Crescent find out old, disabled and needy people like me. Using this money, I will purchase food to survive this flood and will get two poultry chicken to continue my livelihood later this flood.

Mst. Abedon Nesa Jamalpur

Nobody cares for a vulnerable like me but Red Crescent did and reach me before the flood. Allah knows this assistance from Red Crescent is the only means for me to survive this flood.

Md. Masud Ali Jamalpur

We are not biased in choosing areas and thus could reach the most vulnerable people directly before the cyclone, through our volunteers and unit without any external or internal influence.

Sheikh Nurul Haq Vice-Chairman, Satkhira Unit


Sheikh Khairul Rahaman

FbF project delegate

Tel: +88 01709 927433




Bangladesh Red Crescent Society

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German Red Cross

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Climate Centre

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