Anticipatory action (AA) is an increasingly common approach adopted by humanitarian and development stakeholders to help stem the negative outcomes of a projected crisis. By incorporating solutions-focused activities, utilising innovations, and working in partnership, well-rounded and considered anticipatory action can be highly effective at mitigating the worst effects of a crisis.

However, several factors – such as communication, timing, geographic location, crisis severity, and type of impacts – influence the success of anticipatory action. It is vital to recognise and understand these ‘blockers’ and ‘enablers’ at local and national levels and to take steps to enhance or mitigate them.

They take many forms:

While existing food security projections, such as Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) analyses, are helpful in monitoring for broad and slow-moving humanitarian crisis, they are less useful for triggering anticipatory action.

Food insecurity can change quickly and can vary dramatically across space. Anticipatory actions need to operate at these same resolutions, which are much higher than the spatial and temporal resolution of existing food insecurity projections.

Timing is a critical issue. For example, funding requests are often raised during a drought season in response to projections that the drought will continue and that conditions will deteriorate further.

In 2022, the Jameel Observatory for Food Security Early Action and partners convened several virtual mini dialogues on priority topics related to the Observatory vision. The aim was to identify priority research, learning and other actions that the Observatory and a wider community of collaborators can tackle.

This dialogue on 6 April 2022 was championed by Mohammed Addum of Save the Children UK. Peter Hailey from the Centre for Humanitarian Change provided the framing presentation. This brief was reviewed by Laura Swift and Jo Grace of Save the Children and finalized by Nathan Jensen of the University of Edinburgh.

Download a brief summarizing the mini-dialogue