For many years, scientists have been able to effectively predict disasters before they happen. Despite this, the humanitarian community has not yet figured out how to respond to disasters before they happen. In recent years, the humanitarian sector began implementing anticipatory action mechanisms, which mean that actors are trying to act “smarter” and earlier to reduce the impact of disasters on vulnerable people, thereby saving lives and reducing human suffering.

While there is huge ambition within the humanitarian sector, we do not yet know what anticipatory action mechanisms work, where, and why. The evidence gaps relate to nutrition, social protection, fragile contexts, disaster risk finance, drought, vulnerability, famine, and climate change. For example, we do not yet know if distributing shelter reinforcement materials protects people from cyclone impacts, or if such distributions encourage people to shelter in more dangerous situations than they would without the materials thereby causing greater loss of life. Before we continue to fund and implement such programs, we need better evidence.

The Academic Alliance for Anticipatory Action (4A’s) is a global consortium of universities (see Partners tab) that will develop the evidence base on anticipatory action. This will be done in collaboration with humanitarian agencies that are implementing anticipatory action, including the Red Cross, WFP, OCHA and START Network. 4As is supported by the United States Agency for International Development’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance under cooperative agreement 720BHA21CA00044.

Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology

Eduardo Mondlane University, Mozambique

Feinstein International Center, Tufts University

Makerere University, Uganda

National University of Lesotho

University of Namibia

University of the Philippines