Costa Rica

Costa Rica: Volcanic Ash - Early Action Protocol summary


The IFRC Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) has approved a total allocation of CHF 383,103 from its Forecast based Action (FbA) mechanism for the Costa Rican Red Cross. The approved amount consists of an immediate allocation of CHF 254,568 for readiness and pre-positioning and CHF 128,534 automatically allocated to implement early actions once the defined triggers are met.

The Forecast-Based Action Fund (FbA) part of the DREF is a funding mechanism managed by the DREF. Allocations for the FbA are made from the anticipatory pillar of the DREF. Unearmarked contributions to the fund are encouraged to ensure funding availability for the Early Action Protocols (EAPs) being developed.


Costa Rica is a country exposed to various risks, mainly from seismic, hydrometeorological, geological, and volcanological events. The volcanological activity is permanent, highlighting a higher level of historical agitation mainly in 14 volcanoes that have left significant losses in human lives and property, and sporadic effects on the local and national economy. The balance of human losses in the period from 1953 to 2005 is 103 as noted by the Geological Journal of Central America written by Irene Aguilar and Guillermo Alvarado in 2014, also indicates that the economic losses from 1953 to 2016, by volcanic activity, is estimated around 193 million US dollars with present value to 2016, according to information collected for the research.

The Early Action Plan (EAP) for volcanic ash dispersion and fall developed by the Costa Rican Red Cross (CRRC) is an anticipation mechanism that seeks to guide the timely and effective execution of pre-identified early actions once the volcanological activity forecasts foresee reaching the thresholds defined in the activation mechanism of this plan.
These thresholds are based on evidence of historical negative impacts on people and their livelihoods. The time available between the definition of the forecast and the impact opens a window of opportunity for the deployment of early actions to mitigate the effects in the potentially affected territories and avoid greater humanitarian crises in risk areas.

The coordinated execution between technical-scientific institutions, state entities, the CRRC and local governments will reduce the impact of volcanic ash dispersion and fall, reducing the risk of loss of human life and property and facilitating a faster and more timely recovery.

This plan has been designed with the technical contribution of the National Commission for Risk Prevention and Emergency Attention (CNE), the Costa Rican Vulcanological and Seismological Observatory of the National University (OVSICORI-UNA), and the Laboratory of Chemistry of the Atmosphere (LAQAT-UNA). All institutions participating in this plan have a fundamental role during the preparation and activation of the mechanism of Forecast based Action (FbA).

The Early Action Plan (EAP) describes the risk factors considered for the risk analysis, the menu of forecasts issued by OVSICORI-UNA, thresholds and triggers that make up the activation mechanism and the anticipated actions to be executed in a coordinated manner in the event of volcanic ash dispersion and fall by the CRRC and its strategic partners.

Humanitarian assistance to communities at risk is based on the Fundamental Principles of the Red Cross. The proposed activities will always address the criteria of Protection, Gender and Inclusion (PGI), preserving the dignity, access, participation and security of the affected population