Humanitarian Networks and Partnerships Weeks
HNPW 2024 (29 April - 10 May 2024)

Session title: Anticipatory action: the need to distinguish between simple crises and 'wicked crises'
26 Apr 23 09:00-10:30   (Salle Vevey)

Somalia is experiencing one of the worst crises in recent generations. This crisis has been developing since 2020.

Taking action before a crisis develops – ‘anticipatory action’ – has been used with some successes, including in anticipation of floods in Bangladesh and harsh winters in Mongolia. Some money was put into anticipatory action in Somalia, but many have argued that much more could have been done in advance to prevent things reaching such a serious situation.

SPARC followed the lives of farmers and pastoralists over the two years during which the drought intensified. Their findings have just been published, and argue that helping people in advance of a crisis is not be so straightforward in Somalia, despite the long lead time that there is to prepare. SPARC finds that there is a need to think differently about anticipatory action in what it calls a ‘wicked crisis’, i.e. one of unknown duration, with multiple causes (including conflict), and unclear solutions.

What, then, are the implications for taking forward the anticipatory action agenda? How can aid actors, from both the humanitarian and
development sectors, establish ways of working that do not attempt to create a one-size-fits-all approach? How can they instead take on board the enormous differences that exist across situations that are alike only in being called ‘crises’?


Moderator: Oliver Lough (Senior Research Fellow, Humanitarian Policy Group, ODI)

Simon Levine (Senior Research Fellow, Humanitarian Policy Group, ODI)

Nimo Hassan (Director, Somali NGO Consortium)

Edward Parkinson (Advisor - Crisis Anticipation and Risk Financing at Start Network)

Zainab Moallin (Research Officer, Humanitarian Policy Group, ODI) 

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