Endorsed by the Resident Coordinator on 30 May 2021
Pre-approved by the Emergency Relief Coordinator on 3 June 2021
This document presents the pilot framework for collective anticipatory action to monsoon floods in Bangladesh, including the forecasting trigger (the model), the pre-agreed action plans (the delivery) and the pre-arranged financing (the money). In addition to the 3 core elements, an investment in documenting evidence and learning is part of the pilot (the learning).
The objective of this pilot is to further scale-up the quality and quantity of collective anticipatory humanitarian action to people at risk of predicted severe monsoon flooding of the Jamuna River in Bangladesh. The pilot will cover five highly vulnerable districts (Bogura (Bogra); Gaibandha; Kurigram; Jamalpur; and Sirajganj) with the aim to reach 410,000-440,000 people ahead of flood peak with multi-sectoral interventions carried out by the United Nations and the Red Cross/Red Crescent in close collaboration with NGOs and the Government through CERF funding. A further ca. 130,000 people will be reached with additional financing and about one million people are to benefit from joint early warning messages.
The model makes use of available forecasts with a two-step trigger system to predict severe monsoon floods:
Stage I: Readiness trigger is reached when the water discharge at the Bahadurabad gauging station over a period of three consecutive days is forecasted by the GloFAS model with a maximum 15-day lead time to be more than 50% likely to cross the 1-in-5-year return period.
Stage II: Action trigger is reached when the water level at Bahadurabad is forecasted by the FFWC 5-day lead time model to cross the government-defined “Danger Level” + 0.85 meters, and probabilistic forecasts with longer lead times (GloFAS/RIMES) show a sustained or increasing trend of the water discharge at the Bahadurabad gauging station for at least three consecutive days beginning from the day when the danger level is forecast to be crossed.
The delivery of anticipatory action is time critical. Agencies have agreed to develop a common beneficiary database enabling the joint targeting of households so these may benefit from a comprehensive intervention. In addition, all agencies agree to work jointly on distribution and content of targeted early warning messages.
Given the short lead times, unconditional cash is a major component of the pilot. Bringing together the reach of WFP and BDRCS, some 78,000 vulnerable households will receive 4,500 Taka (~US$53) each ahead of severe peak flooding either through mobile transfers (bKash) or the post office.
In addition to cash, FAO will support 25,000 households with (1) animal feed at evacuation points and (2) with floodproof storage of agricultural and productive assets (e.g. tools, seeds).
UNICEF is complementing the anticipatory intervention with the provision of safe drinking water and early warning and hygiene promotion messaging to some 110,000 people through the distribution of jerrycans, water purification tablets and a communication campaign. Also, through the deployment of ten mobile water treatment units at evacuation points, some 20,000 people will be able to access safe drinking water.
UNFPA-led interventions will reach more than 16,300 people: 9,688 women, adolescent girls and third gender/transgender will receive dignity and menstrual hygiene management kits. Some 3,800 pregnant women will have access to safe deliveries. 20 newly trained midwives will support some 100 safe births. An additional health center will be equipped with the capacity for clinical management of over 50 rape cases and some 1,600 couples will benefit from receiving emergency family planning supplies.
In addition to cash, BDRCS through a sub-agreement with WFP, will provide additional evacuation support based on need, last mile early warning dissemination for 100,000 households and first aid support based on need of the people and households during the operations. Save the Children, using its own financing, will provide direct cash and WASH support to some 31,500 people in Sirajgoni and 12,000 people in Gaibanda.
The money for the pilot comes from different sources, including from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) of up to $7.5 million. CERF financing will be released as automatically as possible immediately once the defined triggers are reached. The pre-arranged financing agreement with CERF is in place for one severe flooding event over a two-year pilot period from the moment this framework document is pre-endorsed and pre-agreed.
WFP, UNFPA, BDRCS and Save the Children have additional financing available as part of the same trigger mechanism for additional anticipatory actions in line with applicable agency-specific protocols.
The learning and documentation of evidence from the pilot will be coordinated through an ad-hoc committee which will ensure a common approach to agency-specific monitoring and evaluation; as well as identifying opportunities for an independent evaluation. The impact of the pilot shall be assessed against the premise of anticipatory actions leading to a faster, more efficient, and more dignified humanitarian response, which also may protect development gains. Learning from pilots should be achieved at the highest possible standards and rigor.
Key improvements have been made to this iteration of the Bangladesh anticipatory action pilot compared to the 2020 experience. Many lessons learned have been incorporated at the agency level. At the collective level, the main improvements have been on scale and quality of the pilot. Notably the common beneficiary database and common approach to early warning, as well as improved coordination around learning and activation should help to provide better anticipatory actions.
As a commitment to learning and continuous improvement of anticipatory action challenges, and ways to overcome these in the future, are identified throughout the document. For instance, the COVID pandemic continues to constrain operational capacity. Short time frames in building the pilot, limited time between trigger events and peak floods, as well as the availability of resources means the pilot must be very focused, prioritized and targeted to concrete and achievable outcomes. The biggest impediment to a further scale-up has been the absence of financing for “start-up costs,” i.e. the necessary investments to entities to build the pilot and prepare for collective action.
The framework has been facilitated by OCHA and the RCO and was jointly developed by FAO, UNFPA, UNICEF, WFP, Red Cross/Red Crescent, BDRCS, and the Start Network. Save the Children also contributed.