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Towards forecast‐based humanitarian decisions: Climate science to get from early warning to early action

This paper discusses how forecasters and risk managers can build common ground by designing 'smart' forecastbased decisions as well as simple decisionbased forecasts. The aim is to bridge the gap between science and the humanitarian sector, and help translate early warning into early action.

It details successful examples of collaboration between forecasters and the risk managers. These include the 2008 emergency appeal, launched by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) West and Central Africa Zone, to prepare for flooding based on a seasonal rainfall forecast.

The paper describes how unlike previous years, where forecasts had been greeted with confusion, a partnership between the IFRC and the International Research Institute for Climate and Society allowed the flood forecast and accompanying uncertainty to be communicated effectively to the humanitarian policymakers, enabling them to act in time.

It proposes a framework based on four key attributes of science-based forecasts: the likely location of the event, its magnitude, its lead time (how far into the future it is likely to occur) and, its probability. These are then linked, respectively, to vulnerability, expected loss, range of plausible actions and whether or not to act.