UN OCHA Anticipatory Action. Lessons from the 2020 Somalia Pilot




This report looks at key lessons from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) first anticipatory action (AA) pilot for drought in Somalia, designed and endorsed in 2019. The framework triggered in June 2020 based on projected food insecurity due to covid-19, locusts and flooding.

As the first AA pilot undertaken by OCHA, the experience in Somalia offers crucial lessons and insights. Driving forward a vision for change while listening deeply and integrating perspectives of partners and in-country colleagues represented a significant polarity to manage. Lessons were learned around the need to start by identifying feasible AA interventions, assessing operational readiness and disaster-specific needs, and building the AA plan and trigger from there. The framework did not include a droughtspecific trigger, which led to ambiguity when the food security-based trigger was reached due to other threats. Findings also pointed to a need for greater clarity on trigger monitoring, scenario, and protocol development. Finally, the study found that partnership with the World Bank offered prospects for expanded funding—but also came with challenges, including differences in institutional readiness for forecast-based action.

The study, which was based on a desk review of relevant documents, interviews with global and in-country partners and stakeholders, and observation of select planning and coordination meetings, recommends: establishing a peer review process for AA plans; setting detailed protocols for monitoring the trigger and carrying out step-by-step actions once reached; clarifying decision-making processes during the design phase; developing an intentional approach to support mindset change among key stakeholders; and recognising and responding to how different people cope with systems change.


UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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