Compound risks

As hazards increase in frequency and intensity, we can expect there to be not only less time to recover between them, but also multiple hazards happening at once, resulting in compounding risks. Extreme weather events occurring during the COVID-19 pandemic have shown the impact of compounding hazards on vulnerable populations. When hazards combine, they can multiply each other’s impact in unprecedented ways, leaving governments, civil society, and the humanitarian sector struggling to respond.

Anticipatory action has mostly taken a single-hazard approach so far and now needs to evolve to better account for multiple hazards, concurrent shocks and compounding risks, as highlighted in the following studies.

This paper argues that compound risks and complex emergencies require new approaches to preparedness and anticipatory action, emphasising that social inequalities heighten the risk and magnitude of compound disasters, severely impacting the very communities that are least equipped to handle them. 

This paper examines adjustments to and activations of Early Action Protocols by the Red Cross Red Crescent in 2020 and evaluates how anticipatory efforts managed multiple compounding risks during the COVID-19 pandemic, providing recommendations on how multi-hazard risk management can be improved.

Risk KAN Webinar: Systemic Risk and Covid-19 - Advancing anticipatory action

The Covid-19 pandemic has created complexities for early warning, action and assessment of cascading risk.

The speakers shared their research on a multi-hazards perspective on the Covid-19 pandemic and lessons from anticipatory humanitarian action for climate disasters during Covid-19, in particular reflecting on the lessons from Bangladesh. A discussion followed where speakers and participants discussed how to advance anticipatory action in practice amidst systemic risks and Covid-19.  

  • Dr Mark Quigley, Associate Professor (University of Melbourne)
  • Dr. Evan Easton-Calabria, Senior Research Officer (University of Oxford)
  • Mr. Sheikh Khairul, Forecast-based Financing Delegate in Bangladesh (German Red Cross)

This webinar was co-hosted by Risk KAN and the Anticipation Hub. This was the second in a monthly series of Risk KAN webinars on systemic risk.  

Re-watch the session

Play Video


Help us and our members to expand our knowledge base by sharing relevant material on this topic!


Related reports and scientific publications

Compound risks and complex emergencies require new approaches to preparedness

ncreasingly, we face compounding and interrelated environmental, socioeconomic, and political crises. Yet our approaches to these problems are often siloed, fragmented, and inadequate. The current …

Download file

Managing multiple hazards: lessons from anticipatory humanitarian action for climate disasters during COVID-19

This study looks at how Forecast-based Financing (FbF) practitioners planned to address immediate, climate-related hazards given the additional risks posed by the pandemic. As a ‘natural …

Download file

Learning from Multi-Hazard Early Warning Systems to Respond to Pandemics

Having a common framework for early action to cope with complex disas-ters can make it easier for authorities and other stakeholders, including populations at risk, to understand the full spectrum …

Download file

Related Blog posts

Image shows how the Ecuador Red Cross provides cash to communities likely to be affected by the Sangay volcanic eruption

From lessons identified to lessons learned: Applying lessons from COVID-19 to FbF operations

To find out what drivers of the anticipation agenda within the Red Cross Red Crescent thought about our findings we asked Nazira Lacayo, Senior Officer for Forecast-based Action by the DREF and …

Read the article

Acting early in times of a pandemic: The challenge of staying ready for extreme-weather events during COVID-19

Read blog

COVID-19 and hunger: anticipating the impacts of the pandemic

Read blog

Managing extreme heat during the COVID-19 pandemic

Read blog

Anticipating the humanitarian consequences of COVID-19

Read blog

Header photo by Indian Red Cross Society