Submitted by Afroza Haque and Saskia Schneider
28 Jun 2024

Anticipatory action in disaster management: insights from the 2nd Divisional Dialogue Platform in Bangladesh

Anticipatory action in disaster management is a forward-thinking approach designed to anticipate and mitigate the impacts of a disaster before they occur. The 2nd Divisional Dialogue Platform, held in the Patuakhali District of Barishal Division, Bangladesh, on 18 May 2024, explored how anticipatory action can be tailored and implemented more effectively at the local level, and scaled up across both the division and the country. Further discussions focused on expanding anticipatory action to additional hazards, such as salinity intrusion, landslides, riverbank erosion and lightning storms.

Over 200 local stakeholders took part, including government organizations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and international NGOs, political leaders, community volunteers, and academics, and the event provided a rich forum for them to share their varied experiences. Held under the theme ‘Scaling up anticipatory humanitarian action for sustainable development’, it was organized by the Anticipatory Action Technical Working Group under the leadership of Bangladesh’s Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief (MoDMR).

Government participation and proactive governance

The event saw strong participation from high-ranking government officials, demonstrating their support for and commitment to anticipatory action. They also provided valuable insights into the future actions required, emphasizing the need for a collaborative approach to disaster management.

Mr A.S.M Feroz MP, chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee for the MoDMR, highlighted the importance of targeting educational institutions and developing multipurpose cyclone shelters. He also noted that “we have significantly reduced the death toll; now we need to focus on minimizing property loss by anticipating disasters”.

Mr Md. Mohibbur Rahman MP, the honourable state minister of the MoDMR, stressed that disaster-resilient infrastructure should be part of the vision for 2041 to ensure long-term sustainability and safety. He emphasized the need to expand the dissemination of critical information to both the divisional and upazila levels.

Mr Md. Kamrul Hasan ndc, secretary of the MoDMR, highlighted the importance of integrating localized early warning systems into mainstream practices for identifying risks. He added: “Extensive media coverage is necessary to raise public awareness, and the efforts of the Bangladesh Meteorological Department should be more frequently highlighted.”

Other government attendees included seven members of parliament from the Standing Committee, the director-general of the Department of Disaster Management, the director of the Cyclone Preparedness Program, directors from the Bangladesh Meteorological Department, and the chairman of the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society.

We have significantly reduced the death toll; now, we need to focus on minimizing property loss by anticipating disasters.

Mr A.S.M Feroz MP Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee for the MoDMR

Key lessons and insights

Strengthen local committees. There is a need to strengthen the capacity of local committees, such as the Ward Disaster Management Committee and the Upazila Disaster Management Committee, which often lack sufficient knowledge, resources and capabilities. Tailoring anticipatory action measures to the specific contexts of local entities can significantly enhance their effectiveness.

Ensure accountability and safeguarding policies. These are crucial for community readiness in anticipatory action; by establishing clear accountability frameworks and safeguarding policies, communities can better prepare for and respond to impending disasters, thereby reducing potential harm and losses.

Utilize impact-based forecasting. The speakers highlighted the benefits of impact-based forecasting and identifying local-level triggers and thresholds for anticipatory action. For example, this allows for more precise and actionable forecasts, which can significantly benefit communities by enabling them to take timely and appropriate measures to mitigate disaster impacts.

Prioritize productive assets and collaboration. Securing productive assets and essential resources, and fostering greater collaboration among communities, local NGOs and practitioners emerged as top priorities. Through these, communities can build resilience and improve their capacity to withstand and recover from disasters.

Conduct ground-level research and address marginalization. Conducting more ground-level research, disseminating accurate forecasts, and addressing structural marginalization in society were identified as key components of successful anticipatory action. Ground-level research provides critical data that can inform interventions and make them more effective, while accurate forecasts ensure that communities receive timely and reliable information. Addressing marginalization ensures that the most vulnerable groups are included in disaster preparedness efforts.

Implement a smart database system. Such a system will make it possible to share a common beneficiary list among stakeholders – a crucial step towards streamlining efforts and reducing redundant interventions. A centralized database can also improve overall coordination and ensure that resources are directed where they are most needed.

Map vulnerable areas. Mapping vulnerable areas and identifying the most at-risk groups are essential strategies to minimize the loss of life and property. By understanding which areas and populations are most vulnerable, stakeholders can prioritize their anticipatory action efforts and allocate resources more effectively.

Establish indicators for early action protocols. Establishing social and ecological indicators is essential for developing robust, sector-specific early action protocols. These can help in monitoring and assessing risk levels, thereby enabling timely and targeted interventions to prevent or mitigate disaster impacts.

Setting out priorities for the future

Reflecting on these key issues, the participants proposed a number of solutions and priorities for anticipatory action in Bangladesh. Combined, these will enhance the effectiveness and reach of anticipatory action, ensuring better preparedness for, and response to, disasters.

  1. Develop a national anticipatory action framework as the top priority for 2024.
  2. Create a training manual to strengthen capacity across all levels.
  3. Address the gaps in local-level and sector-specific anticipatory action through improved information sharing and coordination among parties.
  4. Implement a robust database-management system to help prepare and update a common beneficiary list.
  5. Localize early warning and forecasting systems down to the union level to ensure timely and accurate information reaches communities.
  6. Mainstream the country’s shock-responsive social protection program with the help of anticipatory action.


Anticipatory action represents a significant shift in disaster management, from a reactive to a proactive approach. The 2nd Divisional Dialogue Platform was a crucial step towards enhancing this approach in Bangladesh: by addressing the challenges and priorities identified, and fostering a collaborative, community-centred approach, it will be possible to make significant strides in reducing human suffering and protecting livelihoods in disaster-prone areas.

Collaboration between government officials, local stakeholders and community leaders will be vital for future initiatives. By focusing on local contexts, ensuring accountability at all levels, and fostering collaboration, Bangladesh can build a more resilient and prepared society. The continued efforts in anticipatory action will undoubtedly contribute to this.

This article was written by Afroza Haque, Abu Talha and Saskia Schneider, German Red Cross.

All photos by the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society.