International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies

Saving Lives and Livelihoods by Outsmarting Disasters Highly Ranked

Lead Organization

International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies

Geneva, Genève, Switzerland

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To learn more about – or provide significant funding to – this project, please contact Lever for Change.

Project Summary

There is nothing natural about a disaster: extreme weather events do not inevitably lead to catastrophe and people do not inevitably need to die or suffer. We can save countless lives and reduce suffering if we use forecasts and act before a disaster. If we evacuate people before a flood, we do not need to rescue them and support them afterwards. If we help farmers find alternative livelihood options, they won’t need food aid when the harvest fails.The Red Cross and Red Crescent knows that, with the right information, support and science-based resourcing – such as the forecast-based financing – communities can and will adopt early actions to protect themselves. Our project will significantly expand the number of communities who can do this. Every year, natural hazards affect around 200 million people, kill 67,000 people and drive 26 million people into poverty. Together, we can prevent this from happening.

Problem Statement

Every year, millions of people are killed, injured, displaced or made poor by the impacts of natural hazards that could have been prevented or reduced. On average, disasters affect 200 million people, kill 67,000 people and drive 26 million people into poverty annually. Natural hazard-related disasters are now a larger cause of displacement than conflict. The number of disasters is increasing. The average annual number of disasters doubled between 1978-1997 and 1997-2017. Most disasters in recent years have been climate related. In the coming years, climate change will continue to increase the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events. Vulnerable communities suffer the greatest consequences. People exposed to natural hazards in the poorest nations are more than seven times more likely to die than equivalent populations in the richest nations. The elderly, people with disabilities, marginalized groups, women and children are also disproportionately affected. People with disabilities are four times more likely to die when a disaster strikes.Early warning systems have improved over the years, but people continue to perish and suffer from disasters because, too often, early warning does not lead to early action. Common reasons for this are a lack of agreed triggers for action, the lack of clarity of what early action to take, and the lack of funding for early action. Since 2018, IFRC has a fund for early action, and what is critically needed now is to help communities and RC/RC National Societies develop early action plans and access predictable funding when needed.

Solution Overview

Evidence shows that one of the critical ways to reduce the impact of disasters is early warning and early action (also referred to as forecast-based action). Early action happens between an early warning trigger and the actual disaster. Examples include transporting vulnerable people to shelters, protecting assets and livelihoods by early harvesting, early cash transfers and reinforcing housing or classrooms. Our project will focus on helping communities translate early warning into early action. Building on our experience and learning over the past decade, and the establishment of IFRC’s forecast-based financing mechanism in 2018, this project will significantly scale up the number of communities ready and able to act early. In parallel, it will support National Red Cross and Red Crescent (RC/RC) Societies to be ready to complement and reinforce community-led early actions and will help local authorities set up a national forecast-based action system. We will know our project is successful when we see communities working with the RC/RC and local governments and stakeholders to implement early action plans; when we see fewer deaths and reduced suffering and displacement; and when we see the most vulnerable communities living through and thriving after a disaster. The project will expand our solution in 14 priority countries, targeting the most at-risk regions and vulnerable people. Given that early action plans can be applied anywhere by multiple actors in a country once triggers are reached, our project will have a broad national impact.

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