This paper examines drought impact-based forecasting in a multi-hazard context. The lives and livelihoods of people around the world are increasingly threatened by climate-related risks as climate change increases the frequency and severity of high-impact weather. In turn, the risk of multiple hazards occurring simultaneously grows and compound impacts become more likely. Drought is particularly susceptible to multi-hazard influences. However, challenges encountered in the development of drought IbF systems – including poor understanding of compound impacts and specific hazard-focused mandates – raise important questions for the feasibility of multi-hazard IbF as envisioned by the WMO. With these challenges in mind, this paper proposes an interim approach in which real-time assessment of dynamic vulnerability provides a context for drought-based IbF. The incorporation of dynamic vulnerability indicators account for the local effects of non-drought hazards, whilst the use of a drought-based system facilitates effective intervention. The proposed approach will improve our understanding of compound events, enhance adoption of IbF in the humanitarian sector, and better mitigate the impacts of concurrent hazards.
The paper concludes that as the potential for concurrent hazards grows, it is crucial to prioritise a multi-hazard focus. Whilst the WMO lays out a vision for multi-hazard IbF systems, there remain a number of challenges to overcome before such systems can incorporate drought hazards. Our proposed approach provides an interim solution to drought IbF in a multi-hazard context, and whilst the focus here has been on drought, this approach could equally be applied to other hazards as a means to incorporate multi-hazard influences in the near-term. The inclusion of real-time judgement introduces questions around transparency, but importantly allows for the inclusion of dy- namic vulnerabilities to address multi-hazard influences. Moreover, there is a case for “learning by doing”, and we hope that our approach to multi-hazard IbF will improve our understanding of compound events in the long-term, paving the way towards true multi-hazard IbF as envisioned by the WMO, whilst better mitigating the impacts of concurrent hazards in the near-term.