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Applying an inclusive and equitable approach to anticipatory action


Anticipatory action is an approach that provides an opportunity to break that reactive cycle. It does so by predicting when these events will occur and acting early to protect people against their impact. This way of working is now becoming increasingly embedded in the humanitarian system. Anticipatory action consolidates forecasting information and forward planning in ways that allow governments and the humanitarian community to act in advance of disasters or before they reach their peak, as soon as a warning sign appears. Effective use of early warning information and flexible finance mechanisms can mitigate or even prevent humanitarian disasters. Acting on early warning information has been shown to curb projected increases in food insecurity, malnutrition and rural poverty. In doing so, it can protect lives and livelihoods in a rapid manner and ensure greater resilience of the most vulnerable.

Of course, simply acting early does not guarantee that all benefit equally from anticipatory actions. That is why humanitarian actors need to actively strive to be inclusive in all their efforts. Inclusive programming must also be conflict-sensitive to avoid harm and look for opportunities to contribute to peace. This is particularly important for anticipatory action, which aims to shield the most vulnerable people by saving their lives and livelihoods.

An inclusive approach to anticipatory action will have a nuanced and context-specific understanding of the ways inequality impacts vulnerability and resilience. Working in this way means understanding how intersecting social categories, such as gender, sex, age, nationality, socio-economic status, sexual orientation, gender identity and physical abilities, impact the extent to which vulnerable individuals or communities can access and benefit from anticipatory action.

That is why, from the beginning and throughout the entirety of the anticipatory action approach, the most vulnerable people in affected communities need to be included in the decision-making on the planning, design and implementation of activities. For this to be effective, projects and programmes also need to incorporate mechanisms capable of monitoring disparities that might arise throughout the intervention. Taking an inclusive approach acknowledges that vulnerable or marginalized individuals contend with barriers, discrimination and stigmatization. This can limit their access to effective surveillance and early warning systems, basic services and networks, and put them at greater risk when a disaster is imminent.

In short, inclusive anticipatory action must ensure that the most vulnerable can access and benefit from all aspects of the programme and address their specific needs and priorities. At minimum, inclusive and conflict-sensitive interventions aim to do no harm to vulnerable groups, do not compound existing inequalities and they do not create or exacerbate tensions or violence. They leave no one behind and lessen risks that can push vulnerable people further into poverty.

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