Forecast-based financing: case studies from Togo and Uganda
Uganda and Togo are countries with many differences yet common challenges. Partially due to changing demographics, the impacts of floods and droughts have increased over the years, destroying livelihoods, infrastructure, and increasing the risk of disease outbreaks. Disasters have a disproportionate impact on the poor and most vulnerable.
Both Togo and Uganda suffer flood impacts and the frequency of this climate-driven disaster risk is expected to continue increasing, affecting more people. Despite the fact that with the availability of meteorological information and some disasters can be predicted in advance, still relatively little is done to prepare based on weather information. This is attributed to a lack of accurate data, information failing to reach the people who need to use it, lack of clear roles and lines of responsibility for what action to take when a forecast is received, and inadequate financial resources to implement interventions that could reduce impacts.
Furthermore, several challenges limit the effectiveness of early warning systems: technical capacity to issue warnings, the ability of responsible agencies to receive and understand the warning, and the willingness or capacity of people and institutions to take appropriate action (Glantz 2009). Since forecast information cannot provide complete certainty, the risk of ‘acting in vain’ and being perceived as wasting funds often prevents early action (Braman et al. 2013; Coughlan de Perez et al. 2014).
There is unrealized potential for preventive and preparedness actions to be implemented based on forecasts before the actual disaster event occurs, which mostly happens in countries that do not include funds for preparedness actions in planning and budgets. While in most developing countries and especially in Africa, governments and humanitarian organizations have begun investing in long term disaster risk reduction (DRR), opportunities for effective early warning systems to trigger early action remain limited. In reality, there is a hidden financing gap: most humanitarian funding is only available once a disaster strikes, and seldom before.