Forecast-based financing for flash floods

take action. For example, if a 5-day forecast of river height reaches a certain ‘danger level’ in an area with high vulnerability, it triggers an automatic release of funds to support a predefined action. This action could be that the Red Crescent pre-positions medical supplies in vulnerable areas, or that cash is distributed to community members to allow them to take actions they think are best in the situation.

Fiondella: Why does it matter to have money available both before and after flash floods happen?
: Flash floods are a special type of flood. While river floods need a river to occur and coastal floods can only occur, well, by a coastline, flash floods can happen anywhere on Earth. Also, impacts from flash floods are different from those of other flood types. While river floods inundate large areas of relatively flat terrain, flash floods are rapidly occurring, powerful flows of water that can wash out roadways, sweep away livestock and destroy unsecured housing.

It is important to have money available for response and recovery after a flash flood disaster occurs. However, as forecasts improve, we’re finding that it is possible to get an idea of not only where a flash flood may occur, but where the impacts may be the highest. Based on this information, we can justify releasing funding to take preparedness actions. However, I should note that the lead time is much shorter to forecast flash floods compared to other flood types.

Even though the accuracy of flash-flood forecasts is currently lower than that of other flood types, the humanitarian community is becoming more comfortable with accepting certain levels of uncertainty because the impacts can be so great.

Still, forecast-based financing and early actions won’t supplant the need for post-disaster funding and action, because forecasts aren’t perfect and FbF funding is limited.

Fiondella: Besides improving forecast skill, what are some other challenges unique to implementing FbF for flash floods?
: What is equally as challenging concerns the logistics and governance around taking preparedness actions. Even identifying what actions could potentially be taken to prepare for flash flood impacts and how to prioritize these actions are multi-layered questions that need to capture