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Anticipatory Action Framework: Malawi Dry Spells (2021-2022)

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1.Executive Summary

The purpose of this document is to present the framework for anticipatory action (AA) against dry spells in Malawi, including the trigger (the model), the pre-agreed action plan (the delivery), and the pre-arranged financing (the money). The objective of the pilot is to mitigate the impact of dry spell events on vulnerable, at-risk individuals and communities in Malawi through collective, cross-sectoral anticipatory action. In this context, dry spells are defined as 14 consecutive days with 0 to 2 millimeters of cumulative rainfall. The pilot focuses on three districts in the country’s southern region, namely: Balaka, Chikwawa and Nsanje. The three districts are characterized by exposure to dry spells, as well as high vulnerability, making them a top priority for the Government of Malawi (as per the National Resilience Strategy) and the United Nations Country Team. Across the three districts, the pilot has the potential to reach over 185,000 households. The model for the 2021/20223 season makes use of a hybrid trigger model, comprising of a predictive (stage I) and observational component (stage II). The two-step trigger works as follows:

  • Stage I: In mid-November, or mid-December, if the predictive trigger is met for forecasted dry spell events in January or February, respectively, then dedicated funds are released for the commencement of activities by the Protection and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sectors, prior to the predicted shock. This provides 45 to 75 days of lead time to get ahead of the shock and related humanitarian impacts.
  • Stage II: Starting in January, if the observational trigger is met, meaning that a dry spell event has occurred in either January and/or February, then dedicated funds are released for the commencement of activities by the Food Security & Livelihoods (FSL) and Nutrition sectors. This supports anticipatory action after the shock, but before peak humanitarian impact. While closely related, each trigger (Stage I and II) is independent. As such, anticipatory action by the different sectors relies on the respective trigger being met, and in this context, a partial activation of the action plan is possible. The delivery of anticipatory action is guided by a pre-agreed action plan to be implemented by five UN agencies – FAO, IOM, UNFPA, UNICEF, and WFP - in partnership with NGOs and in close coordination with national and local authorities. The pre-agreed action plan will:

[Predictive component]

  • Ensure reliable access to safe water for drinking, personal hygiene, and livelihoods through the timely rehabilitation of non-functional, institutional water schemes and hygiene promotion activities (UNICEF) coupled with the rehabilitation of community, non-functional boreholes and committee trainings on effective water management (IOM).
  • Mitigate against GBV and protection risk through PSEA4 and GBV prevention and management trainings for emergency responders and local gatekeepers, the strengthening of monitoring and referral mechanisms, community outreach, and the provision of dignity kits to women and girls (UNFPA).

[Observational component]

  • Safeguard food security and livelihoods against the impacts of dry spell events on vulnerable individuals and communities through the provision of unconditional cash assistance (WFP) as well as agricultural production support, including in-kind and technical assistance (FAO).
  • Reduce the risk of malnutrition as well as mortality/morbidity on at-risk children through screenings, referrals, and provision of RUTF for identified cases (by UNICEF), which is supported by individual and group MIYCN counselling sessions and refresher trainings for front-line workers (WFP).

The money for the framework comes from the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF). The 2021/22 pre-arranged financing agreement with CERF commits up to US $ 7 million for anticipatory action against dry spells. The agreement further stipulates that twenty percent of the total budget ($1.4 million ) is dedicated to the predictive component and the remaining eighty percent ($5.6 million) to the observational component. Funding can only be released if and when the respective triggers are met.

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