Innovative Approaches to Response Preparedness (IARP) in Uganda

Uganda Red Cross Society (URCS), with financial support from the IKEA foundation, and technical support from the Netherlands Red Cross (NLRC) is currently implementing the IARP programme to enable it to deliver cost-efficient, well-targeted early actions to the people most vulnerable to climate-related disasters. IARP activities are implemented in partnership with the Government of Uganda and other key stakeholders.


Project objective

IARP seeks to reduce the humanitarian impact of climate-related disasters such as floods and droughts on communities (including refugee populations) by setting up forecast-based financing (FbF) systems that are supported by data preparedness, cash transfer programming, and community engagement and accountability.

Key facts

Start/end date     


Hazards covered    

Floods | Drought

Regions covered    

Country wide (Uganda)

Early action sectors     

WASH | Shelter | PGI and Livelihood | Basic needs

Anticipatory Action Protocols/Plans in place    

Flood EAP submitted for Approval
Drought EAP under development


Pilot activation in 2015 before IARP programme (Floods)

Population reached during activation

2,000 people (during pilot activation)

Key actors/implementing partners   

Uganda Red Cross Society | Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre | 510

Anticipation in practice: Project description

According to the URCS risk analysis conducted in partnership with various stakeholders, 15,888 Ugandan households live in areas at extreme risk of flood and an additional 22,565 households live in high risk areas. These floods cause loss of life, damage to houses and consequent displacement, and outbreaks of waterborne diseases. In 2020 URCS submitted an Early Action Protocol for floods to the FbA by the DREF validation committee that will target those at highest risk of flood, or approximately 2,383 Households and 11,201 people. The EAP is a guide that will allow for timely and effective implementation of the following early actions:

  • Community awareness campaigns on risks to life and livelihood in order to prevent deaths, injury, and loss of property
  • Distribution of cash & voucher assistance to facilitate evacuation and help affected families meet their basic needs
  • Distribution of a customized shelter kit
  • Distribution of water purification chemicals, water storage vessels and soap to help reduce waterborne diseases and promote proper hygiene

URCS will activate the flood EAP when Global Flood Awareness System (GloFAS) issues a forecast indicating at least a 60 percent probability (based on the different ensemble runs) of a flood with a 5-year return period and anticipated to affect more than 1,000 households occurring in flood prone districts. The EAP will be triggered with a lead time of 7 days and a FAR of not more than 0.5.

Before an anticipated disaster event, the meteorological forecast is combined with the hazard impact and vulnerability data to depict areas likely to be affected and the predicted impact. This Community Risk Assessment (CRA) dashboard (!/community_risk?country=UGA) showing hazard exposure, vulnerabilities and coping capacities together with aggregated risk indices help to prioritize areas of intervention. Red Cross Action Teams in those areas are then activated to conduct validation of vulnerabilities and coping capacities.

Outcomes and lessons learnt

Uganda has not yet activated FbF under the IARP. The early action protocol was developed and summited for approval and during this process the following lessons and recommendations have emerged: 

  • Development of the forecast based financing approach is not a linear process and flexibility is paramount for successful implementation of FbF.
  • More advocacy is still needed to bring on board more stakeholders and also to promote data sharing with government and other institutions. 
  • More studies and evidence of the effectiveness of anticipatory action/FbF is needed for advocacy purposes
  • Collaboration and networking promote exchange of new ideas as well as resource mobilization.

Following heavy down power on the night of 26th December 2019 at about 6:00am, 6 year old Mary woke up her grand mother to tell her that her bed was wet, the grand mother wokeup to a flooded house and in panic started calling her family of 7 members out. At around 6:45am the whole house callapsed no one was hurt but their house hold property were all destroyed. Ms. Kadijja Kavunani a  57years old widow who lived with her 2 daughters and 3 grand children was one of the 1458 individuals who benefited for Cash Based Intervention.

Miss. Kadijja has lived in Mbale, Doko sub-county Namabase village which is at  alow altitude at the foot  Mt. Elgon and Mbale town but also near banks of river Namatala and River Nabyonga. Namabasa village always experiennces floods during the seasonal torrential rains and the November to December rainny season was not exceptional. But unfortunately this time Kadijja’s house could not withstand the heavy rains- being ahouse made of non-kiln-dried soil breaks the walls easly absorb water persistly seeping from the ground.

Mbale branch made an initial rapid assessement and established that 1,218 households were affected. German Red Cross offered support conditioned to cash and subsequently another joint assessment to determine the feasibility of CBI was conducted. This was an opportunity to the IARP project to pilot CBI intervention in response action by testing the tools, systems and procedures. After management approval of CBI as one of the response action supplemental to NFI distribution, Ms. Kaddijja was profiled and registered as a beneficiary for Cash.
 Though at the time of assessment she never owned a bank account or mobile phone, she was advised buy a simple mobile phone hand set and register a mobile money account which she did.

On the 21st January 2020, Ms. Kadijja recieved UGX 390,200(appox 105 USD) on her mobile phone which support forever transformed her household livelhood. Kadijja. Motivated by this cash, she made a decision to migrate from ever flooding Namabasa. She  sold off the land and bought anew plot in Kolonyi village which is on high land. The money from the sale of land bought land and bricks while the cash  she received from URCS was used to buy iron sheets, timber and labor for construction. Ms. Kadijja now lives in new home with her family never to lose property or experience floods again.


Robert Akankwasa

Director DRM

David Olwa

Project Manager IARP