Peru Floods – Forecast Based Financing Allows Swift Humanitarian Response

Forecast-based Financing (FbF) has enabled the Peru Red Cross to act swiftly to assist 2,000 families affected by the recent flooding.

Over the last few days, floods have affected northern regions of Piura and Tumbes, and southern regions of Puno, Apurímac and Cuzco. At least 2 people have died and 1 is missing.

Forecast-based financing (FBF) releases humanitarian funding based on forecast information for planned activities which reduce risks , enhance preparedness and response, and make disaster risk management overall more effective.

According to their recent news report, the Red Cross FbF work is being piloted in vulnerable areas of northern Piura and Lambayeque regions. The Peruvian Red Cross has mapped out a comprehensive programme of FbF interventions that include early warning, first aid, health, water and sanitation, and shelter in flood-prone communities.

Seasonal forecasts at the end of 2015 and short-term forecasts last month triggered humanitarian actions that included the provision of drinking water, fumigation against the mosquitoes that carry dengue fever, hygiene kits and drainage.

About Forecast-based Financing (FBF)

Forecast-based Financing, supported by the German government, is a bilateral programme of the German Red Cross in several countries including Bangladesh, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Mozambique, Nepal, and the Philippines.

Forecast-based financing (FBF) is a new approach to humanitarian finance. In the past, such finance was made available mainly after a disaster strikes, in a situation where suffering is almost guaranteed.

However, developers of FbF saw that humanitarian actions could be implemented in the window between a forecast and a disaster. Many climate-related hazards can be forecast and humanitarians get information about when and where extreme-weather events like storms, floods and droughts are expected. FbF aims to set up an automatic system that both triggers and funds preparedness actions before the disaster strikes, prompted by a credible warning or forecast.

How Does FbF Work?

A humanitarian agency and stakeholders like meteorological services and communities at risk agree on selected actions that are worth carrying out once a forecast reaches a certain threshold of probability. Then each action is allocated a budget to be activated when a forecast is received.

A key element of FB F is that the allocation of resources is agreed in advance, so actors can weigh the risk of occasionally acting in vain against consistently failing to take early action. These agreed standard operating procedures (SOP) also ensure that FB F funding will no t be used ad hoc for measures that might not be worth taking.

Uganda Floods and FbF

In November last year, the Red Cross distributed preparedness items to households in flood-prone villages 300 km north-east of Uganda’s capital, Kampala. This was the first time in the history of the International Red Cross that pre-disaster humanitarian action was taken based on a a scientific forecast of flood risk.

The flood forecast, later verified by the by the Uganda National Meteorological Authority (UNMA) and the country’s Hydrological Department, was based on Global Flood Awareness System (GloFAS). This system was developed by the European Commission’s in-house science service, Joint Research Centre (JRC) in cooperation with the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF).

File photo - Floods in Peru. The raging Urubamba River in 2010. Photo: Lydia Boote, under CC BY-NC 2.0
File photo – Floods in Peru. The raging Urubamba River in 2010. Photo: Lydia Boote, under CC BY-NC 2.0