Anticipation of flooding in Rwanda, Plan International

German Federal Foreign Office supports innovative programme for early humanitarian action

The German Federal Foreign Office (GFFO) has announced its support of €4.5 million for a programme of activities that will embed early humanitarian action across a global network of NGOs.


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The German Federal Foreign Office (GFFO) has announced its support of €4.5 million for a programme of activities that will embed early humanitarian action across a global network of NGOs.

Start Network’s innovative approach aims to shift humanitarian funding from reactive to proactive, from late to early. The network believes that pre-emptive disaster financing can change the way humanitarian assistance is provided and catalyse a new way of preparing for crises, helping to create more resilient communities and reducing the impact of crises.

Through the GFFO funding, which runs until the end of 2022 and builds on a previous grant made by GFFO in 2019, Start Network is aiming to mainstream early action across its programmes. The programme of activities includes:

1. Launching a proactive fund to support forecast-based-action in three countries

Working closely with Start Network member Welthungerhilfe, one activity involves setting up a proactive fund which will pay out automatically to NGOs if specific metrics related to drought in a specific country are met. The approach is being tested in Madagascar and expanded to two further countries.

2. Supporting rapid and early action globally

The GFFO funding will also support the Start Fund, a global fund that enables NGOs to respond quickly and in advance of humanitarian crises.

3. Technical resources and training

Another part of the programme includes technical knowledge and expertise in anticipatory action, including the production and provision of tools and training for Start Network members to enable them to plan early actions to mitigate against crises and to raise anticipatory alerts to the Start Fund.

4. Advocacy

International advocacy for forecast-based financing and anticipation, to catalyse this way of working across the sector.

Christina Bennett, CEO of the Start Network said:

“We are hugely grateful to Germany for this contribution. This way of working is a potential game-changer for the sector. Slow provision of aid is one of the biggest structural problems in disaster response efforts, and this costs lives. Studies show that early action means more lives saved. And that’s exactly what we will be able to do.”

Sibylle Sorg, Director General for Crisis Prevention, Stabilisation, Peacebuilding and Humanitarian Assistance at the German Federal Foreign Office, said:

“Germany is proud of being a key partner to Start Network. Anticipatory action is conducive to saving lives and reducing the economic and societal costs of disaster. It is one of the cornerstones of our humanitarian strategy. The Start Network is the leading NGO network on anticipatory action. Its innovative approach enables NGOs to act before disaster strikes. This can save lives around the globe – and it further paves the way for a paradigm shift towards foresighted humanitarian assistance.”

Bettina Iseli, Director Programmes Welthungerhilfe said:

“People in Madagascar and the other project countries will feel the difference and the new dynamic in order to tackle disasters. We no longer simply react to a crisis but with the funding from the German Government we can anticipate the needs and safe lives”.