UK commits £3.1 million in aid to minimise the humanitarian impact of disasters

The UK has led a push for the international community to take more action ahead of disasters – rather than responding reactively to them.

At an event jointly hosted by the UK, Germany and UN OCHA, UK Minister for the Middle East and North Africa, James Cleverly warned that conflict, COVID-19 and climate change are driving unprecedented levels of humanitarian need.

He called on donors and aid agencies to “do humanitarian aid differently” and use technology and forecasting to pre-empt disasters such as flooding, drought, or disease outbreak, and reduce their impact on the most vulnerable.

The UK is a recognised leader in anticipatory action, which involves identifying hazards, pre-agreeing action plans and funding, and triggering a response when a ‘risk threshold’ is crossed. At the event, Minister Cleverly announced a package of new UK support for this approach, including:

£1.8 million for Start Funds in Bangladesh and Nepal, to help national and international NGOs anticipate and react to disasters
£1.3 million to the Start Network for civil society projects in Bangladesh, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Pakistan, and the Philippines, to develop disaster risk finance systems in these countries. This funding will also enable Start to take out drought insurance cover in Zimbabwe
Work with the Centre for Disaster Protection to assess levels of pre-arranged finance ahead of crises, and to identify opportunities for future growth in this sector
The UK has boosted work on anticipating disasters through its G7 Presidency, with a series of commitments in the first ever famine prevention and humanitarian crises compact. It has also previously committed £120 million in disaster risk finance to help protect vulnerable communities against the impacts of climate change.

Minister for The Middle East and North Africa, James Cleverly, said:

Developments in science, technology and data mean we can identify the risk of disasters better than ever beforehand yet we still too often wait for floods, droughts and diseases to strike before we respond.

We need to do humanitarian aid differently – to act ahead of shocks, to mitigate their impact. In the face of intensifying climate change, the whole aid system needs to come together to stop, minimise, and address the threat of loss and destruction caused by environmental damage. We know that this proactive approach can save lives.

Protecting vulnerable communities from disasters, and addressing, minimising and averting the loss and damage caused by the impacts of climate change, is a priority for the UK as it hosts the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, in November 2021. With natural hazards increasing in both frequency and severity as a result of climate change, anticipatory action and disaster risk finance have an increasingly critical role to play.

The ‘High-level Humanitarian Event on Anticipatory Action: A Commitment to Act Ahead of Crises’ aimed to scale up the use of anticipatory action, galvanise a collective push to act ahead of crises, mitigate their impact and map a common way forward.