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Scaled up Anticipatory Action: The Case for Stepping up FbF in Zambia

Netherlands Red Cross
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Why FBF?

Forecast-based Financing (FbF), alternatively known as Forecast-based Action (FbA) has been gaining in traction since initial pilots in 2013. It is a tool which uses the advances in hydrometeorological and climatological modelling to act based on forecasts -- essentially positing that there is enough certainty in some forecasts to be able to act in advance of an impending hazard. FbF works by choosing a predetermined trigger threshold for action -- a forecast of a certain magnitude of hazard, for example -- and matching this with a plan for coordinated early action as well as financing to make the intervention possible. It is designed to save lives and assets, increase dignity and agency for people and mitigate disasters. On the disaster risk management continuum it falls in the window between preparedness and relief/response; it does not replace either.

The Zambia Red Cross Society (ZRCS) began undertaking FbF in 2017, together with partners within the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement as well as with more than 20 local actors. Featured prominently are the Zambia Meteorological Department (ZMD), the Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit (DMMU), and the Water Resources Management Authority (WARMA). Stakeholders have spoken of the benefits that FbF offers in Zambia, including increased technological sophistication in Early Warning Systems (EWS), increased forecasting skill, increased coordination and data sharing, higher levels of community trust in government and disaster authorities, and breaking down of traditional working silos (see overview here).