Submitted by Lydia Cumiskey, Partnerships and Strategic Hub Development, Anticipation Hub
23 Apr 2021

Strengthening Synergy for a system-wide shift: Anticipatory Action in the nexus

Achieving the systematic scaling up of anticipatory action cannot be achieved alone. On Wednesday April 21st, leading experts, governments and practitioners came together on a virtual stage at the Humanitarian Networks and Partnerships Week to discuss how they can work in partnership to enable more anticipatory action in practice, and strengthen the humanitarian-development nexus. The session demonstrated clear consensus that anticipatory action is a powerful tool for delivering both humanitarian and development benefits -  making humanitarian response, faster, more efficient and more dignified, while also safeguarding development gains.

Jagan Chapaigan, IFRC Secretary General set the stage during his opening remarks emphasising how affected communities on the ground do not recognise these silos between sectors, highlighting how we need to focus on meeting the needs of communities. The five key policy asks developed by the Anticipatory Action Task Force, presented in a video at the start of the session, outlined priority areas for action to break down the silos and scale up anticipatory action to the most vulnerable. Ms. Anja Nitzsche, Chief, Partnerships and Resource Mobilization Branch, OCHA built on these points in her opening remarks by sharing powerful examples of the benefits of anticipatory action for communities on the ground in Somalia and Bangladesh, while emphasising the importance of continuous learning and evidence generation.

View the "5 key policy asks "video here

We applied a rigorous approach to learning and evidence generation of what works and what doesn't.

Anja Nitzsche Chief, Partnerships and Resource Mobilization Branch, OCHA

If we put ourselves in the shoes of affected communities, the silos between humanitarian, development and climate sectors are not relevant or helpful. What’s important is that we are able to deliver their needs: the need to stay alive and be protected, the need to anticipate, to have agency, be self-reliant, and more resilient to future shocks.

Jagan Chapagain Secretary General, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)

The audience then heard from representatives of three leading initiatives pitching their commitment to supporting the scale up of anticipatory action - the Anticipation Hub, the Risk-informed Early Action Partnership (REAP) and the Crisis Lookout Coalition. The Anticipation Hub is a platform that facilitates knowledge exchange and evidence-based learning on anticipatory action. The Risk-informed Early Action Partnership (REAP) brings together an unprecedented range of stakeholders across the climate, humanitarian, and development communities and provides the vision and ambition to make 1 billion people safer from disaster by 2025. The Crisis Lookout Coalition groups humanitarian, development, and private actors committed to a new approach to international crisis financing that predicts the greatest risks, puts plans in place, and makes sure communities have the funds they need when it matters most.

The partnership pitches were followed by a panel session with representatives from the Kenya Red Cross Society, START Network, the German Federal Foreign Office and the UNFPA, who delved into the opportunities and challenges of creating partnerships across sectors and geographical scales to deliver anticipatory action in practice and mainstream it across sectoral policies. The participants also heard about the impact anticipatory action can have for beneficiaries through powerful stories from the field. This included a story of how working with a family prevented child marriage as a coping strategy during the disaster or how – for the first time in in his life – a transgender person felt included and respected. Panelists highlighted the importance of stimulating an attitude of learning, engaging with local actors as equal partners and enhancing cooperation with sectoral ministries to enhance data access and mainstreaming of gender issues.

One of the keys to successful anticipatory action is integrating issues surrounding gender dynamics and shock-responsiveness into both social protection and disaster management policies.

Eiko Narita Deputy Representative of UNFPA Bangladesh

We need more equal partnerships with local actors; local actors must play a leading role within anticipatory action systems.

Amjad Ahmad Disaster Risk Finance Coordinator, START Network

The interventions clearly demonstrated that these partnerships have an important role to play in collaboratively facilitating learning and knowledge exchange, strengthening the evidence-base, driving political commitment and momentum for increased investment in early action, and supporting the mainstreaming of anticipatory action across sectoral policies. 

We can start to become greater than the sum of the parts. We can work together effectively to realise the systemic change.

Ben Webster Head of Secretariat, Risk-informed Early Action Partnership (REAP)

The government of Bangladesh, through anticipatory action realized the importance of investing in that science of early warning.

Eiko Narita Deputy Representative of UNFPA Bangladesh

The session ended by amplifying the importance of capitalising on the opportunities ahead in 2020 to influence global leaders at the G7 and COP26, build momentum for the systematic scale up of anticipatory action, and  continuously strengthening the anticipatory action community. 


Watch the session in full below: 

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Read the session abstract and outcomes on the HNPW website - summarised below:


Global partnerships on anticipatory action – including the Anticipation Hub, the Risk-informed Early Action Partnership and the Crisis Lookout Coalition - are complementary and work in synergy to achieve a major shift from a reactive to an anticipatory approach to disasters and crises. No single initiative and no single actor can achieve the systematic scale up of anticipatory action. Humanitarian actors need to work in synergy with development actors to mitigate the short-term impacts of forecast crises, at the same time reducing disaster risk and protecting development gains across all sectors, eventually curbing the rise in humanitarian needs. Humanitarians, development actors, climate actors, governments, civil society, private sector: there might be different perspectives and entry points, but there should be a common goal. Protecting vulnerable people against shocks is a collective undertaking.


There are still several challenges to be addressed in order to scale up anticipatory action. Anticipatory action should be fully integrated into national DRM policies, coordination and governance structures, including through social protection mechanisms. Furthermore, we need more equal partnerships with local actors, who must play a leading role within anticipatory action systems. Also, we need to continue improving our predictive models building on current lessons. Partnerships can help address the existing challenges, and answer the policy asks of the Anticipatory Action Task Force (AATF).


There has already been incredible progress in the field of anticipatory action, and it has now become a critical component of the humanitarian system with increasing local ownership. Experiences from Bangladesh and Kenya show that collaboration across different actors and institutions leads to the establishment of solid anticipatory action systems based on consensus. Rigorous learning processes have highlighted that anticipatory action is having a concrete impact on reducing humanitarian needs. Now, working closely together with development actors is crucial to improve people’s livelihoods and coping capacity in the longer-term. If we put the needs and aspirations of people at the center of what we do, strengthening synergies across the nexus will be achievable.

Read the five key policy asks developed by the Anticipatory Action Task force here.

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