The Red Cross announced the release of funding to reduce the impacts of extreme winter weather on vulnerable herders following an announcement of Mongolia’s National Agency for Meteorology and Environmental on 2 January that 50% of the country was at risk of an extreme winter. It was the first time that the early action funding mechanism developed by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) was used anywhere.
Using meteorological models and historical data, experts can forecast the probability of extreme weather events with increasing accuracy. Combining weather forecasts with risk analysis allows IFRC funding to be released so people can prepare for extreme weather. The goal of forecast-based financing is to anticipate disasters, prevent their impact, if possible, and reduce human suffering and losses. The key element is to agree in advance to release financial resources if a specific forecast threshold is triggered.
The early warning from the National Agency triggered the pre-agreed release of CHF 210 968 (US$ 217 000) to the Mongolian Red Cross Society for forecast-based action from IFRC’s Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF). The funding provides 88 Swiss francs (US$ 90.6) cash each for 1 000 vulnerable herder families to prevent the starvation, dehydration and cold exposure of their livestock because of poor access to feed, water, veterinary care and shelter. A livestock nutrition kit will support livestock health during winter’s lean months.
“Forecast-based financing helps communities move from reacting to disasters to anticipating them. Climate change, which brings disasters that are increasing in frequency, length and intensity makes this kind of finance model even more crucial. Simply waiting for disasters to strike is no longer an option,” said Gwendolyn Pang, IFRC Head of Beijing Country Cluster Support Team.