Collaboration in action! Formalizing cooperation between government agencies and humanitarian actors to accelerate anticipatory action in Bangladesh
Bangladesh is extremely prone to various natural hazards due to its geographical setting. To reduce the impacts of disaster on lives and livelihoods, injuries, livestock and movable assets, the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society (BDRCS) in partnership with the German Red Cross (GRC) and the technical support from the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre (RCCC) initiated the Forecast-based Financing (FbF) Project in 2015.
Since the inception of FbF in Bangladesh, BDRCS and GRC have been continuously advocating with Government agencies, UN organizations and I/NGOs to accelerate anticipatory action in Bangladesh. The BDRCS initiated the FbF approach for cyclone and flood in very close consultation and collaboration with the Bangladesh Meteorological Department (BMD) and Flood Forecasting and Warning Centre (FFWC) to access reliable meteorological and hydrological forecast information. In February 2021, BDRCS signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with BMD and FFWC to formalize this collaboration between humanitarian and hydro-met organizations to jointly enable anticipatory action. The benefit of this MoU is that it will accelerate timely access of BDRCS to forecast information and data to enhance the design and implementation of forecast-based triggers. Each organization will help their counterparts to develop their capacity, knowledge and expertise on anticipatory humanitarian action. An example of this collaboration is that BDRCS will share triggering methods as well as its learning on the complexity of designing forecast-based triggers and the evaluation of forecast skills. The government hydro-met organizations (BMD and FFWC) and BDRCS will work together to update the trigger criteria and engage in joint research to improve forecast skill. These efforts will ultimately benefit vulnerable communities who can receive anticipatory humanitarian assistance before the disaster, resulting in reduced losses to their lives and livelihoods. BDRCS and the government hydro-met organizations prepared a joint action plan to solidify their areas of collaboration and continue to work on implementing these joint activities.
A significant achievement resulting from years of ongoing advocacy efforts, is that the government of Bangladesh has now integrated Forecast Based Financing/Action (FbF/A) in its policy on disaster risk reduction named Standing Orders on Disaster in 2019 and has formed a Taskforce to work on FbF/A. BDRCS played a crucial role in supporting the government of Bangladesh to establish this taskforce given their 5+ years’ experience developing and implementing methodologies and tools for anticipatory action within the Forecast-based financing project. It is very encouraging to see how the experience gathered through BDRCS, for example through stimulations, activations and community consultations, is now being used to support the national government to shape its policies. The taskforce will play an important role to provide guidance on preparing forecast based early action-related strategies through analysis of disaster risks, trigger/thresholds and impacts, and maintaining coordination with stakeholders. In addition, the taskforce is expected to provide guidance on the methods and procedures for releasing funds for anticipatory action, the development of approaches to scale up FbF/A for all possible disasters, and preparing protocols to clarify all the roles and responsibilities for government and non-government organizations involved in implementing forecast-based action. In March 2021, the BDRCS and GRC facilitated Government to activate the taskforce and provided logistic support to organize its first meeting. Now, the taskforce is established and will play a fundamental role for continuously strengthening relationships across all organizations and their respective sectors to anchor anticipatory action not only in policy frameworks but in the methodologies, tools and approaches that influence interventions on the ground.
These agreements with government agencies will bring the policy makers as well as the scientists from hydro-met organizations in closer contact with practitioners in humanitarian sectors, so we can jointly accelerate forecast-based financing/action in Bangladesh. Together we are working on a number of exciting initiatives to advance anticipatory action. For example, the BDRCS, GRC, Climate Centre and BMD is working on a joint feasibility study for heat waves and will work collaboratively on projects to anticipate the impacts of heat waves in Dhaka City areas. This work demonstrates our shared commitment to expanding the application of anticipatory action to cover more hazards and we look forward to continuing this close collaboration between government agencies and humanitarian actors going forward.
Written by Md. Salauddin (Rubel), Project Support Officer, Forecast-based Financing (FbF) Project, Disaster Risk Management Department, Bangladesh Red Crescent Society (BDRCS)