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Integrating ‘anticipatory action’ in disaster risk management

Briefing/policy papers

Written by Emily Wilkinson, Lena Weingärtner

Hero image description: A disaster risk mapping workshop in Cagayan de Oro, Philippines Image credit:MindaNews / Horacio Marcos C. Mordeno Image license:CC BY 2.0

‘Anticipatory action’ (AA) encompasses a set of planned and pre-financed measures taken when a disaster is imminent, prior to a shock or before acute impacts are felt. This paper argues that AA should not be a substitute for longer-term investment and action to reduce vulnerability and should strengthen people’s capacity to manage risks effectively and adapt to climate change.

Key messages

  • AA should be seen as an integral component of disaster risk management, adaptation and resilience. This will require a better understanding of how AA relates to existing government structures, policies and programmes.
  • A frank discussion is needed between governments and international aid agencies on the utility of AA; the specific problems that it can help to overcome; and where other types of external support would be more effective.
  • AA will not reduce disaster impacts in the long run without steps to address the power structures and rent-seeking practices blocking progress on reducing risks.
  • Critically, AA should not be a substitute for investment and action to reduce vulnerability and strengthen people’s capacity to manage risks – it should not crowd out public investment in adaptation, risk reduction and preparedness.
A disaster risk mapping workshop in Cagayan de Oro, Philippines
Emily Wilkinson, Tobias Pforr and Lena Weingartner

The acknowledgements section of this briefing note has been updated.