Impact-based forecasting and anticipatory action

Weather and climate forecasts traditionally describe what the weather will be: for example, “it will rain this much tomorrow”. Unfortunately, this information is not enough for disaster risk managers and humanitarian actors to act before disasters. To act early, it is critical to understand what the impacts of weather-related hazards might be - on people’s lives, livelihoods and property, and on the economy.

Impact-based forecasting does this, by explaining what the weather will do: for example, “this many houses are expected to be damaged if there is this much rain on this day”. It represents a significant step forward for early warning systems, as it ensures that warning can be translated into targeted early actions. In this way, impact-based forecasting is revolutionizing the way we anticipate disasters and act to mitigate the impacts of weather and climate events.

Introduction to impact-based forecasting

Impact-based forecasts enable anticipatory action, helping to reduce the impacts of weather- and climate-related events. This video explains how this new approach to forecasting and warnings can revolutionize humanitarian and disaster management actions.

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The need for more impact-based forecasting

Impact-based forecasts often serve as the triggers for forecast-based financing mechanisms, and are therefore a prerequisite for many anticipatory action programmes. Many actors within the humanitarian community, including the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement, UN agencies and other NGOs, have gained extensive experience in implementing anticipatory action programmes, alongside government agencies and scientific partners.

However, while many hydrometeorological agencies have expertise and capacity in providing forecasts and warning services, they are often less familiar with concepts such as exposure and vulnerability, which are critical for developing impact-based forecasts. Building partnerships between the hydrometeorological community and the humanitarian and disaster management communities will support the further development of impact-based forecasts that are ‘fit for purpose’ and can be used to trigger anticipatory actions to protect at-risk communities.

Further information

June 24, 2022

Bridging Impact-based Forecasting and Anticipatory Action for Disaster Risk Reduction

At MHEWC-III and GPDRR two sessions explored challenges and opportunities around IBF and AA and ambitions to sustainably scale up early warning early action efforts - read the key messages here.

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January 27, 2022

Developing an impact-based forecasting model within Nepal’s national disaster information management system: the BIPAD portal

This blog outlines the recent development of an impact-based forecasting module within the BIPAD portal - the national disaster information management system in Nepal.

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March 29, 2022

Stepping up support for anticipatory action in the latest WMO Bulletin

The latest edition of the WMO Bulletin captures some of the core messages relevant to early warning and early action - including an article that explores different ways to scale up support for …

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WMO Guidelines on Multi-hazard Impact-based Forecast and Warning Services - Part II: Putting Multi-hazard IBFWS into Practice

The guidance provides practical information and case studies on how to move from weather forecasts and warnings issued by National Meteorological and Hydrological Services to the provision of …

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The future of forecasts: Impact-based forecasting for early action

The guide outlines steps needed to develop an impact-based forecasting service that enables anticipatory actions, combining existing forecast-based financing methodology with the technical expertise …

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Madhab Uprety

technical advisor

Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre

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Photo: Cyclone Idai, Mozambique, aftermath, 15-16 March 2019 (Denis Onyodi: IFRC/DRK/Climate Centre)