Deciding when and where to act: Triggers are a core component of anticipatory action. Find out here what we mean by triggers, what role they play and what guidance exists.

Setting triggers or mechanisms to decide when to act is one of anticipatory action’s key elements. For an organization to have access to funding for their early actions that is (automatically) released before the disaster strikes, they need to clearly define where and when funds will be allocated, and assistance will be provided. For organizations using Forecast-based Financing, this is decided according to specific threshold values, so-called triggers, based on weather and climate forecasts coupled with risk data, which are defined for each region. Other organizations rely on risk analysis and use expert judgment. Some use both or a combination of both, depending on the hazard. For most organizations setting the trigger or other decision-making mechanisms to determine when to act is built on a thorough understanding of risk, including extensive analysis of the impact of past events as well as of vulnerability and exposure data.

Anticipatory action aims to reduce suffering and losses and protect lives and livelihoods by acting ahead of the shock. Triggers thus are set in a way that they indicate when an extreme event, of a magnitude and scale, that has caused a disastrous impact in the past is likely. In order to do this, it is often not enough to just look at predictions of one factor. For example, while a good forecast will tell you how much rain will fall and when, in order to allocate funding for anticipatory action, we would need to know how much rain is likely to cause a flood? And what level of flooding has caused a disastrous impact in the past? Where is this extreme impact likely?

The work for the identification of triggers can be very technical and require expert resources. Cooperation among key actors and institutions is necessary, including the National Hydro Meteorological services (NHMS), Disaster Risk Management Agencies (DRM), risk information management experts, and humanitarian and development actors among others.

In this section, which will be further updated, you will soon find a trigger database showing the triggers used by different organisations in different countries and for different hazards.

If you want to learn more about how the Red Cross Red Crescent sets triggers for its Early Action Protocols in Forecast-based Financing, please check out the chapter “Set the trigger” in the FbF Practitioners Manual.

To learn more on how forecasts can be combined with other data to predict impact, please see the Impact-based Forecasting Guidelines.

Trigger database

This database of triggers serves as a platform for practitioners to see what triggers are being formulated and to facilitate further exchange about the trigger development process.

View trigger database