International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)
International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said Tuesday it has launched a ground-breaking new humanitarian fund designed to ease and even prevent the damage and trauma caused by natural disasters.

“Our new forecast-based action fund means that guaranteed money will be available to help communities prepare for a disaster before it strikes,” said Pascale Meige, IFRC’s director of Disaster and Crisis Prevention, Response and Recovery in a statement here.

This Forecast-based Action fund is embedded within IFRC’s Disaster Relief Emergency Fund.

It is a 25-30 million Swiss franc (25-30 million U.S. dollars) annual fund which has supported Red Cross and Red Crescent emergency response efforts for more than three decades, said the IFRC.

The fund uses a combination of weather predictions and historical data to fix triggers for the automatic release of money for pre-agreed early action plans.

For example, a combination of forecast rainfall combined with the level of a river at a certain point can be used to activate funding for downstream evacuations and the distribution of shelter kits for the people who have been moved to safer ground.

IFRC’s Meige said that for decades, humanitarians have called for a shift to proactive and preventative humanitarian action, but such action has so far been sporadic.

“For the first time, this fund, and the work we are doing to build country-level plans and agreements can consistently deliver on this promise — turning promises into action,” he said.

It would mean that life-saving action can now take place before anyone is in immediate danger.

The Fund is supported by the German Federal Foreign Office, with technical guidance from the German Red Cross, the Red Cross and Red Crescent Climate Centre and other partners.

The Forecast-based financing approach is now being rolled out at the national level and has been piloted at community level since 2014, including in Peru, Togo, Uganda, Bangladesh, Mozambique and Mongolia, said the IFRC.

In Bangladesh, predicted flooding of the Brahmaputra river in 2017 triggered cash grants for people who were able to use this money to support their families during the emergency. Enditem

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