Early warning early action

When disasters strike, Red Cross Red Crescent volunteers are often among the first to provide relief to victims. But in most cases, we can save more lives and reduce more suffering if we can act before a disaster. We have known for decades now that it is much more effective to evacuate people before a flood than to rescue people during the flood, or to provide relief to its victims. It is also much more effective to support farmers to find alternative livelihood options than to provide food aid when the harvest has failed. The Red Cross and Red Crescent are investing more into people-centred early warning systems so that their early action (preparedness and mitigation/prevention) are suited to face the rising risks of extreme weather events as a result of climate change.

Low rainfall and/or drought checklist for National Societies

Drought is a slow onset disaster and can be caused by lack of rainfall. Its effect on a country can be magnified by lack of planning and management of the water resources/storage system. Small low-lying atoll island communities in the Pacific like Kiribati, Tuvalu, Cooks, Tonga, FSM, Palau, Solomon Islands etc depend on rainfall and desalination as their main water sources. Not all countries will declare drought when low rainfall occurs, that doesn’t mean preparedness and response actions can’t be taken, it just means that we need to be watching forecasts, water levels and health indicators to act appropriately.

It is important for National Societies to be clear on which areas to focus on when responding to drought, and preparing for low rainfall whether it is provision of potable water, basic sanitation and/or hygiene promotion.

These guidelines are generic and National Societies disaster management officers are encouraged to make appropriate changes to the checklist to suit the situation of your National Society considering the resources available. Read more file (pdf, 74 kB)about the checklist. 

Using Climate Forecasts for Early Action to Save Lives in the West/Central Africa Zone
  • With the onset of climate change, the Federation and National Societies must be ready for the increasing occurrence of extreme weather events such as more intense precipitation. The 2008 actions of the IFRC's West and Central Africa Zone Office provide a model for the Movement to improve and scale-up the use of climate information, allowing translation of early warnings into early action for better disaster management and response: read more.
  • Subsequently, the West and Central Africa zone and African Centre of Meteorological application for Development (ACMAD) have signed a cooperation agreement to be better prepared for climate change related challenges. This is the first such agreement in sub-Saharan Africa between a humanitarian organization and a climate institute. Read full article external.
  • The IRI, IFRC and Red Cross/Red Crescent Climate Centre made a short video about using seasonal forecasts and other climate information to improve humanitarian response and preparedness. Watch the Vimeo film here external.
  • In early December 2009, the Senegal Red Cross and partners convened a workshop in St. Louis, Senegal, one of the African cities most threatened by climate change. During this workshop a game designed by the Parsons School of Design externalwas introduced to bridge the gap between Red Cross staff, climate experts and a vulnerable community. A low-res version of the film can be watched here external.

The International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI) 

The IRI's mission is to enhance society's capability to understand, anticipate and manage the impacts of seasonal climate fluctuations in order to improve human welfare and the environment, especially in developing countries. The IRI conducts this mission through strategic and applied research, education, capacity building, and by providing forecasts and information products, with an emphasis on practical and verifiable utility and partnership.

The IRI provides assistance to the interpretation of observed and projected weather conditions relevant to the work of the Red Cross and Red Crescent.

More examples of 'Early Warning, Early Action' (source: IFRC)


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