Submitted by Paulo Sergio Tomás, Epifânia Huate, Anna Carolina Machado and Silvia Pieretto
20 Jan 2022

Integrating shock-responsive social protection into anticipatory action protocols ahead of a drought in Mozambique

Anticipatory action in Mozambique.
Anticipatory action in Mozambique. © WFP/ Denise Colletta

In recent years, Mozambique has made significant advances in anticipating the occurrence of drought. These have been achieved through adopting a forward-looking approach, specifically in the design and rollout of tools and by allocating the necessary financing to do so. The integration of multisector actors, including social protection actors, has also been critical. 

This shift – from a reactive approach to a forward-looking one – was motivated by the challenges the government of Mozambique faced when declaring a state of emergency during the El Niño phenomenon that led to severe drought in 2015/16. This event led to a review of the legal framework for disaster risk management, specifically: the regulatory instruments for severe drought risk management; the identification of the alert level; the definition of decision-making lines for declaring a state of emergency; and the establishment of timely response capacity to mitigate the negative impacts of drought. 

As a result, national policy documents now integrate the occurrence of severe drought events, and droughts are prioritized in the Master Plan for Disaster Risk Reduction (PDRRD 2017-2030) and the Disaster Risk Management and Reduction Law (Law n.10/2020).

An early warning system for drought

Following these actions, the National Institute for Disaster Management (INGD) started a multisector initiative to establish an early warning system for drought. This system integrates the forecast-based financing approach, which involves the design and implementation of anticipatory actions to mitigate the impact of disasters before they occur to reduce the need for humanitarian assistance. 

Various government agencies are supporting this initiative, including the National Institute of Meteorology and the Ministry of Agriculture, which both provide technical support to INGD for the generation of forecast data through satellite images and the expansion of drought-monitoring capacity.

The technical working group for drought early warning

To strengthen collaboration between the different actors, INGD, through its Division for the Development of Arid and Semi-Arid Zone, coordinates a multisectoral national technical working group for drought early warning. This supports the government in establishing adequate warning mechanisms and alert thresholds for declaring a state of emergency in the case of drought events, as well as planning actions to mitigate the negative humanitarian impacts of drought in Mozambique. 

The technical working group consists of three sub-groups. One focuses on forecasting and early warning and is responsible for defining and monitoring drought-risk thresholds. The second has responsibility for providing guidance on the selection of impactful anticipatory action interventions, which will be formalized in anticipatory action protocols. The third sub-group is dedicated to coordinating financing mechanisms, which involves exploring the most feasible pathways for sequencing different disaster-risk financing tools, including the African Risk Capacity sovereign insurance against natural extreme events.

Integrating social protection into anticipatory action

One interesting aspect of Mozambique’s shift towards anticipatory actions for drought is the integration of social protection actors as collaborators in the design and implementation of early actions. These include the National Institute of Social Action and the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Action.

The links between social protection and anticipatory action are diverse. They range from informing social protection cash transfers with pre-defined drought triggers, to robust targeting of the most at-risk population groups ahead of a disaster’s impact.

The effectiveness of such approaches is currently being tested in four districts: Chibuto and Guijá in Gaza province, and Marara and Changara in Tete province. In 2021, local government actors and partners developed anticipatory action protocols for drought in these four districts, which would be activated if a trigger level was reached. The National Institute of Social Action’s emergency transfer programme – the post-emergency direct social support program – was included as part of these protocols, representing 68 per cent of the budget foreseen to be released if a drought trigger is reached. 

The four districts have now approved their anticipatory action protocols and inserted them in the relevant provincial and national contingency plans. After approval of the government’s National Contingency Plan, with integrated anticipatory action elements, monitoring and forecasting activities are now continuing ahead of a potential activation of the anticipatory action protocols in the upcoming period. The methodology for preparing anticipatory action protocols in the pilot districts is expected to be expanded to more regions in the country. 

Lessons learned

The collaboration around the early warning system for drought in Mozambique highlights the significant potential of integrating social protection transfers – in this case, through the post-emergency direct social support program – as a way to mitigate the impacts of drought. This has been an important result of the joint work between the National Institute of Social Action and INGD to improve actions for mitigating the negative impacts of drought. 

While significant progress has been made in the field of anticipating drought in Mozambique, challenges for the future remain.

  • It will be necessary to evolve the process further, including: the platform of the technical working group for drought early warning; the development of anticipatory action protocols for a potential activation, and for the implementation of anticipatory interventions ahead of drought; and ensuring consistency and quality standards in the preparation of plans for different drought-prone districts.
  • To better integrate social protection instruments into anticipatory action plans, there is a need to improve and adapt the existing financing tools so that they can be used to merge or align with timely social protection payouts. 
  • To scale up and expand anticipatory action, it will be necessary to identify additional funds and capacity. 

The partners in the national technical working group on drought early warning, under the guidance and leadership of the National Institute for Disaster Risk Management and Reduction, are prepared to face and overcome these challenges by moving forward together.

This blog was written by Paulo Sergio Tomás, national director, INGD Division for the Development of Arid and Semi-Arid Zone, Epifânia Huate, technical officer, INGD Division for the Development of Arid and Semi-Arid Zone, Anna Carolina Machado, programme policy officer - social protection, WFP Mozambique , and Silvia Pieretto, programme policy officer - climate change adaptation and resilience, WFP Mozambique.

The World Food Programme (WFP) supports the ongoing anticipatory action programme in Mozambique, both technically and financially, together with the European Union, the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), the Directorate General for International Cooperation and Development (DEVCO), the government of Norway and the WFP Innovations Accelerator.