Programme Report

Research Director, Energy, Environment and Resources
  • Since 1980, over half a million people have died as a result of drought-related food crises. Modern, sophisticated early-warning systems such as those of the Famine Early Warning Systems Network and the Somalia-focused Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit present a significant opportunity for the humanitarian system to anticipate and mitigate slowonset food crises. Yet this opportunity is being wasted and the window for early, preventive action is still being missed.
  • The reasons why it is so difficult to take concerted decisions on early action in response to early warning need to be understood if this problem is to be resolved.
  • For agencies, such as NGOs or those of the UN, that will deliver an international response, two fundamental decisions must be taken in response to early warnings: whether to respond and how to respond. And to avoid duplication of efforts, conflicting interventions or gaps in response, collective decisions are required. Donors must decide whether to provide funds and if so, what interventions to fund from the plans agencies develop.
  • This report examines why these decisions tend to generate delay rather than early action. The report begins by examining the initial decision about whether to respond: within agencies, within donor organizations and then collectively. It then considers decision-making about how to respond before finally exploring what a more effective decision-making process might look like.

Project: Translating Early Warning into Early Action.