FAO, Humanitarian actors root for stronger collaboration and advocacy for anticipatory action in Southern Africa

Source(s): Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations - Headquarters

Act early as one in scaling-up anticipatory humanitarian action

Johannesburg – Humanitarian actors from across the southern Africa region have called for strengthened collaborative and advocacy approaches toward scaling up anticipatory humanitarian action in light of climate change and disasters in the region.

About 250 humanitarian practitioners from government, civil society, academia and the United Nations participated in the first Southern Africa Dialogue Platform on Anticipatory Humanitarian Action organized virtually. It stimulated a discussion on breaking down silos and barriers, and on building up inter-agency coordination to effectively and jointly anticipate and act early to save lives and livelihoods.

The dialogue was supported by the German Federal Office and jointly organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), UN World Food Programme (WFP), German Red Cross, Red Cross/Red Crescent Climate Centre.

“In scaling up anticipatory action we need to enable more advocacy to enhance government and resource partners’ understanding of anticipatory action that is backed by evidence on how anticipatory action has helped to save lives and resources. Crucial also is investment in anticipatory action that builds capacity at the national level, and coordination at all levels to harmonize our approaches,” said Lewis Hove, FAO Sub-regional Resilience Team Leader for Southern Africa.

“Anticipation adds value in predicting and preparing ourselves ahead of disasters ensuring that people don’t lose their livelihoods and livestock. The key here is to act early because we cannot miss the chance of reducing human suffering,” said Michael Charles, Head of Country Cluster for Southern Africa at IFRC.

Urgency to shift from reacting to crises to anticipatory action

Southern Africa is faced with humanitarian risks, including hydro-meteorological hazards, conflict, epidemics such as COVID-19, and recurrent pests affecting crops and livestock. Although the humanitarian actors have acted early to buffer the impact of hazards in the region, there has been duplication of work and lack of alignment in terms of methodologies, advocacy and strategic vision.

Acknowledging the current projections of more frequent and intense climate and weather related events in the region and increasing population density, the humanitarian community and partners agreed to work towards aligning the anticipatory approaches and to collaboratively engage with government counterparts as one.

“The key issue for us is to see anticipatory action as an opportunity, to see it as a way to work more effectively together, to improve the way the entire humanitarian system works and the way it interacts with other stakeholders,” said Brian Bogart, Senior Regional Programme Advisor at WFP in Southern Africa.

“The Southern Africa region will continue to be a driver of innovation and developing methodologies for emerging topics such as Forecast-based Financing in fragile contexts. The way forward is to foster and strengthen collaboration through transparent and open discussions,” said Alexandra Rüth, Head of Anticipation Hub for German Red Cross.

Adopting ‘bottom-up’ approach for advocacy

The collaboration of humanitarian actors on advocacy goes with aligning messaging and delivering messages effectively with the goal of bringing different stakeholders to embed early actions in their programmes.

In Zimbabwe, Tapiwa Muzerengi of Welthungerhilfe said they have worked together with stakeholders from the village level to the provincial level to develop tailored solutions.

The meeting also discussed aligning financial mechanisms, harmonization of triggers and alignment of anticipatory actions in southern Africa.

FAO and anticipatory action in Southern Africa

In March 2020, FAO activated a global programme to develop anticipatory action systems in high-risk countries; to build capacity for early warning and anticipatory action and to develop guidelines around drought triggers.

Several anticipatory action projects have been implemented in the countries in the region, including Malawi, Lesotho, Mozambique, Madagascar, Zimbabwe and Zambia.

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