This research aimed to synthesize knowledge about anticipatory action for drought, highlight major questions, and propose pathways to develop forecast-based programmes. Its initial analysis of the drought hazard highlights the complexity of defining the phenomenon in all its various forms that complicate operations but also present an opportunity for forecast-based action (FbA). The humanitarian implications of droughts are profound and far-reaching, but traditionally the humanitarian role has been to respond to the impacts of these phenomena rather than acting early. A move toward anticipatory action has developed over the past few years through Red Cross Red Crescent forecast-based financing and action (FbF, FbA), notably with relatively rapid-onset hazards such as floods and cyclones.
The research explores ways to identify, monitor and forecast droughts and their impacts, and suggests factors to consider when developing trigger models – notably with early-warning systems and seasonal and sub-seasonal forecasts. Thirdly it categorizes early actions to prepare communities and details a theory of change to guide their conceptualization. Finally, it suggests guidelines for monitoring and evaluation with, for example, new tools to address drought-related geography and timelines. A separate decision-tree document aims to guide practical discussions about forecast-based action for drought, starting with the identification of the humanitarian impacts to be tackled.