At an event jointly hosted by the UK, Germany and UN OCHA, UK Minister for the Middle East and North Africa, James Cleverly warned that conflict, COVID-19 and climate change are driving unprecedented levels of humanitarian need.

He called on donors and aid agencies to “do humanitarian aid differently” and use technology and forecasting to pre-empt disasters such as flooding, drought, or disease outbreak, and reduce their impact on the most vulnerable.

The UK is a recognised leader in anticipatory action, which involves identifying hazards, pre-agreeing action plans and funding, and triggering a response when a ‘risk threshold’ is crossed. At the event, Minister Cleverly announced a package of new UK support for this approach, including:

  • £1.8 million for Start Funds in Bangladesh and Nepal, to help national and international NGOs anticipate and react to disasters
  • £1.3 million to the Start Network for civil society projects in Bangladesh, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Pakistan, and the Philippines, to develop disaster risk finance systems in these countries. This funding will also enable Start to take out drought insurance cover in Zimbabwe
  • Work with the Centre for Disaster Protection to assess levels of pre-arranged finance ahead of crises, and to identify opportunities for future growth in this sector

The UK has boosted work on anticipating disasters through its G7 Presidency, with a series of commitments in the first ever famine prevention and humanitarian crises compact. It has also previously committed £120 million in disaster risk finance to help protect vulnerable communities against the impacts of climate change.

Minister for The Middle East and North Africa, James Cleverly, said:

Developments in science, technology and data mean we can identify the risk of disasters better than ever beforehand yet we still too often wait for floods, droughts and diseases to strike before we respond.

We need to do humanitarian aid differently – to act ahead of shocks, to mitigate their impact. In the face of intensifying climate change, the whole aid system needs to come together to stop, minimise, and address the threat of loss and destruction caused by environmental damage. We know that this proactive approach can save lives.

Protecting vulnerable communities from disasters, and addressing, minimising and averting the loss and damage caused by the impacts of climate change, is a priority for the UK as it hosts the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, in November 2021. With natural hazards increasing in both frequency and severity as a result of climate change, anticipatory action and disaster risk finance have an increasingly critical role to play.

The ‘High-level Humanitarian Event on Anticipatory Action: A Commitment to Act Ahead of Crises’ aimed to scale up the use of anticipatory action, galvanise a collective push to act ahead of crises, mitigate their impact and map a common way forward.

Background

  • more information on the event is on the UN OCHA website, where a chair’s summary of key commitments will also be published

  • Start Network supports agencies to analyse the risk of crises and is creating a suite of timely and reliable funding options to disburse for different types of crises. It is developing new funding instruments that enable humanitarians to mobilise collaboratively and predictably to manage risks rather than react to crises. This will enable NGOs to forecast crises and access timely funding to reduce the impact of those disasters on communities

  • Start Network is also working towards a decentralised model of national and regional hubs. Hubs will manage their own funds and local and national NGOs will have direct access to funds. The first programme demonstrating this way of working is the Start Fund Bangladesh, which over the course of four years has put more support and funding in the hands of national and local responders and is demonstrating the impact of locally-led action. Start Fund Nepal is Start Network’s second national-level Start Fund and has been designed by local, national and international organisations

  • the Centre for Disaster Protection works to change how the world prepares and pays for disasters. Identifying, planning for and financing disasters before they strike saves lives, reduces suffering and protects livelihoods and economies, especially for the poorest and most vulnerable communities. With COVID-19 and the growing impact of climate-change, the world is more aware than ever of the importance of being prepared and working together to address risks that can devastate lives. That’s why the Centre brings countries together with international development, humanitarian and private sector organisations to find solutions and advocate for change

  • the £120 million in disaster risk finance was announced at the G7 in June 2021, to enable quicker responses for vulnerable people when extreme weather and climate-linked disasters hit. It will help build the systems needed to reach the poorest people quickly, such as payments when harvest fail, and will also support regional disaster protection schemes across Africa, South East Asia, the Caribbean and Pacific to protect the lives and livelihoods of poor and vulnerable people against climate risks.

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