Lessons Learnt

Find key lessons learned by the Anticipatory Community over the years of implementing Early Warning and Early Action projects from around the globe.

During recent years, the Anticipatory Action community of practice has built up a wealth of lessons ranging from the design, set up and activation of Anticipatory Action programmes, strategies, and policies. In this section you will find resources that can help you identify lessons at all different levels of the Anticipatory Action process.

What can go wrong with a Forecast-based Financing project?

Achieving great things

The goal of Forecast-based Financing is to reduce the impact of disasters.

In the window of time between a forecast and a hazard’s impact, FbF releases resources to take early action. Ultimately, we hope this early action will be more effective at reducing suffering, compared to waiting until the disaster happens and then responding. For example, in Bangladesh, people who received a forecast-based cash transfer were less malnourished during a flood in 2017.

With the promise of increased effectiveness, the concept of FbF is rapidly gaining traction in the humanitarian and development sectors. Clearly, FbF can be a useful tool to assist communities who would otherwise experience a catastrophe.

However…what could possibly go wrong?

FbF doesn’t inherently have a higher chance of “going wrong” than much of our other work. But because it is new, people might not realize potential pitfalls.

Here we outline several ways in which FbF can go wrong – some are inevitable, and some can be avoided.

Let’s create a fake country – let’s call it Madeupsville.

In Madeupsville, FbF has taken off, and is widely implemented by everyone. However, in Madeupsville, people are starting to run into a few problems…

Too complicated

Even though the meteorological service of Madeupsville developed a high-tech model with the most amaaaazing data, the system went offline and no one knew that a disaster was forecasted!

Actions are not taken in time
The FbF system triggered while the Madeupsville disaster manager was away. Logistics staff had only one vehicle and couldn’t get goods to the neighborhoods in time to help. Early action came too late!

The money doesn’t arrive
The next time they got the alert, Madeupsville Red Cross was ready to go! But, they had to wait 2 weeks for the fund transfer, and by that point the disaster had occurred.

Actions are useless

In Madeupsville, the local Red Cross gave people storage buckets to protect harvested food from a forecasted flood. However, because the buckets had no ventilation, all their food spoiled…

Conflict of interest

In Madeupsville, the large-scale hay distributor talked to his friend at the weather service. His friend agreed to send a drought forecast to a local NGO, and voila!
The hay distributor got lots of business that year. He made sure to share some of his earnings with his friend at the weather service!


Only a local project
When a major storm is forecasted for the Eastern part of Madeupsville, no one is ready to take action because the pilot project is only in a few villages in the West.

Actions are not right-sized
When a flood trigger happens, the Madeupsville Red Cross distributes one week of water purification tablets to all households in the 3 pilot villages. However, for 4-6 weeks the families drink dirty water and are also exposed to contaminated food. This leads to a large-scale outbreak of diarrheal disease, and people wonder why FbF did not eliminate the disaster!


The FbF team in Madeupsville is verrry proud of their data-driven FbF programme, which uses state-of-the-art vulnerability and exposure data to target people most affected by a forecasted disaster. However, the team does not realize that landless migrant populations are totally missing from this database. Therefore, no one evacuates the landless people during an FbF intervention. What’s worse, there was no coordination among agencies, and local NGOs targeted the same people.

Wrong priorities

In Madeupsville, FbF became such a cool innovative idea that everyone and their brother starting making FbF projects! The Madeupsville government was excited to involve domestic tech and modelling firms. They even tried to fund FbF projects for disasters that were not forecastable! Less and less money and attention was paid to the incremental benefits of this investment for people, measuring success only from an international financial point of view.

Also, community members complained about receiving lots of forecast-based hygiene kits when by far the leading cause of death was road accidents. They really wished someone had just given out motorcycle helmets, instead of using complicated forecasts to distribute soap every few years.


Do you have a question?

Irene Amuron

Technical Advisor on Forecast-based Financing

Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre

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