Floods are an annual occurrence in Bangladesh, and the risk weighs heavily on families when the monsoon season begins. In July 2020, FAO and partners in Bangladesh used state-of-the-art data collection and predictive analytics to anticipate when flooding would peak, allowing them intervene in advance. This helped farming families secure their livestock and essential assets before the floods struck.
The intervention was made possible by an extraordinarily swift release of funds from the United Nations' (UN) Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), and rapid distributions were largely completed before the once-in-a-decade floods hit their peak in late July. Tens of thousands of people received supplies. This effort demonstrates the shift towards working to anticipate crises and acting before they occur. To scale-up this approach, in early 2021 the UN's Emergency Relief Coordinator earmarked USD 140 million of CERF funds for anticipatory action pilot projects globally to be implemented in selected countries over the next 18 months, with Bangladesh and FAO playing significant role. The objective is to scale-up these pilot projects, while improving targeting and seeking more sustainable methods for the sudden-onset anticipatory action model. For flood forecasting in Bangladesh, participating agencies will receive funds to deliver anticipatory actions ahead of a flood.
Thanks to a contribution of USD 200 000 from the Government of Belgium through the anticipatory action window of the Special Fund for Emergency and Rehabilitation Activities, FAO will be able to provide additional resources for the 2021 flooding season in Bangladesh to ensure that even more families can be reached and more quickly. This funding will enable FAO to act swiftly and protect livelihoods before a flood risk materializes. The project will target 3 750 families in the flood-prone districts of Gaibanda, Kurigram, Jamalpur, Siranjganj and Bogra. Water-proof drums and animal feed will be procured, stored, and poised ready to be distributed when the trigger is activated. Coupled with these inputs will be early warning messages designed to target at least 100 000 farmers. The messages will provide information on the climate as well as on actions farmers can take ahead of the risk to protect their assets. This project tests and shifts the humanitarian model to support a larger-scale anticipatory action approach. The results will be used to help understand the role of pre-positioning inputs prior to a hazard, with the goal to create a more sustainable model for sudden-onset risks in the future.
FAO Bangladesh is carefully liaising with the Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief through the national Forecast Based Financing Action Working Group to ensure that FAO actions are in line with the Government Standard Order on Disasters. Activities will also be conducted in close coordination with local governments and actors in and around the Jamuna flood plain region.
The common beneficiary profiling and registration exercise, which is currently being undertaken, has been designed to better understand the nature of the needs of specific households. It is being coordinated in consultation with local government partners as well as with other agencies that are planning to deliver anticipatory actions. Furthermore, all activities will strictly adhere to the regulations and protocols of safe delivery to avoid further spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Sensitization and communications on COVID-19-safe practices will be provided to farmers to ensure their awareness of the latest conditions and best health practices. FAO collaborates closely with government agencies, civil society and affected communities to select and implement its activities.