Anticipatory action helps to prevent and reduce human suffering, as interventions mitigate the shock impact and reduce humanitarian needs. Anticipatory action helps to protect hard-won development gains and enhances resilience.

What we need to do is to move from today’s approach — where we watch disaster and tragedy build, gradually decide to respond and then mobilize money and organizations to help — to an anticipatory approach where we plan in advance for the next crises, putting the response plans and the money for them in place before they arrive, and releasing the money and mobilizing the response agencies as soon as they are needed. Does that sound like rocket science? No, I don’t think so either.”

Former Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock, 
Iveagh House, Dublin, Ireland, 23 March 2018

Photo: FAO/Fahad Kaizer

What is OCHA’s approach?

OCHA considers anticipatory action to be actions that are taken in response to a trigger before the manifestation of humanitarian need. These actions are intended to mitigate the impact of a foreseen hazard and avoid large-scale crises. Hazards that can be addressed through anticipatory action include drought, floods and cyclones, among others. 

CHA’s theory of change for anticipatory action is based on the premise that we need to learn by doing. Anticipatory action is an adaptive process, and greater support will be created for it through the demonstration of its effect.   

The Emergency Relief Coordinator has committed to invest up to US$140 million from CERF over a two-year period (from mid-2020 to mid-2022) in a set of anticipatory action pilots to:

Demonstrate how collective and coordinated anticipatory action could work at scale

Evaluate to what extent anticipatory action is faster, cheaper and more dignified than the traditional response. 

12 pilots are under way in Bangladesh, Chad, Ethiopia, Malawi and Somalia and are planned for Nepal and the Philippines.

OCHA's role in anticipatory action


Leveraging OCHA’s mandate, OCHA plays a key role in convening partners and efforts to bring anticipatory action to scale.

Data & Analysis

OCHA has experts working on humanitarian data and predictive analytics to support evidence-based decision making.

humanitarian programme cycle


OCHA coordinates the humanitarian response including the Humanitarian Needs Overview and Response Plan process at country level.


OCHA manages the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) and the country-based pooled funds (CBPFs).