A new head for the Anticipation Hub

Alessandra Gilotta recently assumed the role of head of the Anticipation Hub. In this interview, she tells us a little about her experience in the humanitarian sector and her ambitions for this new position.

Welcome to the Anticipation Hub, Alessandra! Can you tell us about your career up to now?

I bring close to 20 years of experience in humanitarian emergencies and peace operations spanning Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Europe.

My journey started with the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), responding to emergencies in Guinea, Côte d'Ivoire and Liberia, and supporting the United Nations’ refugees reintegration programme in Sierra Leone, with refugees returning from neighbouring countries.

In mid-2005 I joined WFP’s corporate emergency operation in Sudan, during the Darfur crisis. The complexity of the situation – insecurity in the region, hampered humanitarian access, and the lack of road infrastructure and networks – we were moving goods and emergency assistance through railways, trucks, barges and airdrops.

Three years later, I joined Oxfam’s international secretariat, working across the membership to enhance Oxfam’s global emergency response and support the transition and integration of new affiliates into the Oxfam confederation.

In 2010 I returned to the field and served in senior roles within WFP’s emergency response in Haiti after the earthquake; Save the Children UK during its transition to Save the Children International; with the Humanitarian Leadership Academy, Start Network and, more recently, with WFP’s cash-based transfers division in Rome.

And what is your experience with anticipatory action?

My experience with anticipatory action dates back in 2017, when I was leading the Start Fund, a pioneering humanitarian funding mechanism of the Start Network to intervene using forecasts. These were the early years of anticipatory action and at Start Network, we were busy creating innovative, early and rapid financing to ensure timely and reliable funding mechanisms for and in anticipation of crises.

More recently, I had the opportunity to contribute to WFP’s pioneering new cash policy, approved in June 2023, which pursues anticipatory cash transfers as a strategic priority to support people to meet their food security and nutrition needs, and enhance their resilience against future shocks.

At WFP I also worked with country offices to provide technical support for the design and delivery of national social-protection programmes. This included the government of Uganda’s disaster risk management mechanism, supported by the World Bank, which releases financing for anticipatory action ahead of forecast floods and droughts.

What are you looking forward to in your new position?

War, economic turmoil and climate change are driving millions of people into poverty and acute hunger. Over a quarter of a billion people are suffering from hunger, and 45 million children under the age of five are estimated to be acutely malnourished.

Business as usual is no longer an option. Against this backdrop, anticipatory action has proven to be a successful approach that saves lives and protects livelihoods, providing more dignified, effective and efficient humanitarian assistance. Anticipatory action puts the needs of people at the centre and fosters effective and localized humanitarian responses, while protecting development gains.

While lots of progress have been made over recent years, anticipatory action is not being implemented at a scale commensurate with the opportunity it presents. This is therefore an exciting time for me to take the helm at the Anticipation Hub, which showcases the centrality of working through partnerships to foster synergies with actors that have complementarity mandates, skills and resources to accelerate anticipatory action.

I am excited about working alongside scientists, practitioners and policy-makers from across disciplines and sectors, including the national and local actors who drive innovation to better serve people at risk of disasters. I am looking forward to taking the Anticipation Hub to the next level and accelerating efforts and synergies to support the rich and vibrant anticipatory action community to "do more, do it better, and do it together".

And what are your ambitions for 2024?

For me, this year is going to be about learning, meeting our partners from the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement, the United Nations, NGOs, government, think tanks, academia and others network initiatives, and, most importantly, serving and connecting such a vibrant and growing community.

As you may know, we have our first evaluation coming up this year, which will give us an opportunity to reflect on our collective achievements and inform our next strategy period. With so many moving pieces, for me it is paramount that the Anticipation Hub maintains a laser-sharp focus on our strategic priorities and competitive advantages.

I look forward to connecting with so many of you at the Global Dialogue Platform in Berlin later this year.

With warmest regards,

Alessandra Gilotta


Anticipation Hub

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