This paper outlines the current state of anticipatory action and discusses some of the existing evidence on its impact. It is not intended to provide a comprehensive literature review or a meta-analysis of the impacts of early warning or early action initiatives. Rather, it presents some examples of different types of impact associated with a range of anticipatory action in developing countries. This is in recognition of the diversity of anticipatory action mechanisms and variety of activities being implemented in different contexts, as well as the range of studies that have been carried out focusing on different outcomes. The paper also highlights evidence gaps and points out some of the methodological challenges in measuring impact.
Relevant studies were identified through keyword searches in Google and Google Scholar. Further published and unpublished documents were provided by organisations implementing and supporting anticipatory action, including the Start Network, the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre, World Food Programme (WFP), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Save the Children and the Centre for Disaster Protection. Building on this initial screening of the literature, reference tracing was used to select additional studies. A total of 22 documents form the basis of this paper, although we recognise that there is a larger body of literature on the impact of early warning systems and of preparedness more broadly. These studies are not included here to keep the scope manageable and because much of the literature on the returns from investing in early warning systems focuses on high-income countries or regions.