22 Nov 2022

A major step forward for anticipatory action in Uganda

Uganda recently reached a significant milestone in its efforts to implement anticipatory action across the country, holding its first ever National Dialogue on Anticipatory Action. Taking place from 2-3 November 2022 in Kampala, the event saw around 200 actors involved in the design and implementation of anticipatory action gather to discuss the country’s progress to date, and establish the priorities for the coming months and years.

“This National Dialogue provided a forum to share best practices and lessons learnt in Uganda, and to define a national vision for anticipatory action,” says Eddie Jjemba, a facilitator, resilience advisor and intrapreneur with the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre. “This is essential if we are to progress from pilot projects and see this approach scaled up across the country.”


Achieving the desired scale up of anticipatory action requires growing and learning from the various pilots that we have engaged with. The participation of the various partners represented at the National Dialogue is a strong testament towards the direction of scaling up, and a commitment to defining a national vision for anticipatory action.

Irene Amuron Manager Anticipatory Action, Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre

Implementing anticipatory action successfully requires more than technical solutions for forecasting disasters and financial support. Effective and sustainable implementation of anticipatory action needs a mindset change and strong collaboration among all stakeholders: from response to preparedness, and across all levels. Dialogues such as this are a platform for stakeholders to delineate the myths and garner the momentum needed for anticipatory action.

Emmanuel Ntale Manager Climate and Environment Unit, Uganda Red Cross Society

The growing threat from hazards

In recent years, Uganda has experienced devastating impacts from a series of hazards. In 2022, floods and landslides wrought havoc in the mountainous areas of Mbale and Kasese, which cost many people their lives and livelihoods, and damaged more than 4,000 households. There has also been an extensive drought in the Karamoja region that has killed many heads of livestock, notably cattle, upon which people’s livelihoods depend. As climate change gathers pace, Uganda is likely to face more frequent and more intense hazards.

In many places, these hazards are exacerbated by factors such as conflict and the displacement of people, which creates complex compound crises. In 2020, many Ugandans suffered not only from the effects of drought, but, at the same time, a plague of desert locusts, the COVID-19 pandemic and floods.

There’s nothing new about these disasters because Uganda is a country that is prone to disasters.

Sarah Opendi Shadow minister for water and environment

The need to scale up anticipatory action in Uganda

Against this backdrop, much of the conversation during Uganda’s National Dialogue revolved around how to scale up anticipatory action and enable people to act ahead of these hazards. Specifically, the participants debated ways to increase the funding available for implementing anticipatory action at the sub-national (district) level.

There was plenty of good news in this regard. Robert Kwesiga, the secretary general of the Uganda Red Cross Society, noted that anticipatory action is increasingly being embedded within the country’s humanitarian system and disaster risk management plans. Meanwhile, the government has set up a Disaster Risk Finance Technical Working Group, comprising representatives from various ministries, departments and agencies in Uganda, the United Nations and the Red Cross. This group will guide and advocate for the scaling up of anticipatory action and advise on the funding required for this.

The mindset has to change. The planners need to consider the early actions we can take for those disaster-prone areas.

Robert Kwesiga Secretary general, Uganda Red Cross Society

The final outcome of the event was a set of priorities related to risk assessment, anticipatory action and scaling up warnings. These include:

  • the need to strengthen impact-based forecasting in Uganda
  • increased financing for anticipatory action more broadly
  • improving the databases available for hazard observations
  • developing anticipatory action at the local government level.

The National Dialogue on Anticipatory Action in Uganda was hosted by the Office of the Prime Minister's Department of Disaster Preparedness and Management, the Uganda Red Cross Society, the Uganda National Meteorological Authority, the World Food Programme, the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre and the Netherlands Red Cross, and supported by the Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations and the IKEA Foundation.

For more information about anticipatory action in Uganda, please contact Emmanuel Ntale, Uganda Red Cross Society.

Thanks to Eddie Jjemba and Irene Amuron (Climate Centre) and Lindah Nabatanzi and Emmanuel Ntale (Uganda Red Cross Society) for their help with this article.