Menu of Triggers for Forecast-based Financing

Step-by-Step Approach to Designing Trigger Options


When making a Standard Operating Procedure in a FbF framework, disaster risk managers and decision makers need to select which forecast trigger to use for which action. The menu of triggers is a document, prepared by a technical team, that outlines the “menu” of trigger options. With these options, the humanitarian and/or development teams can decide which trigger to select for each of the prioritized early actions and preparedness for response actions. Target audience for this guide The main target audience for this guide are technical teams, mainly working at hydro-meteorological agencies, climatologist and research institutions. Given the nature of the design of a Menu of triggers, which involved not only analysis of hydro-meteorological factors but a sound understanding of risks, it is essential a close collaboration with risk analysis and early warning systems experts.

What is addressed in a Menu of Triggers?

The menu of triggers gives a set of options according to the lead time of the forecast. It answers the following questions: 

  • What is the hazard? What are the risks? What is the “danger level”?
  • How much lead-time can the forecast give us? What are the probabilities at each lead-time?
  • If we take action based on this probability, how often will we act in vain?
  • How often will this forecast trigger?

A trigger is a forecast that is issued, which exceeds both the danger level and the probability threshold, leading to the initiation of predefined actions. This probability threshold is agreed upon beforehand amongst all stakeholders. In FbF, the trigger will be defined by the attributes of the scientific forecast of a likely extreme event. To trigger is to say yes to taking early action based on a warning (i.e., act to activate the SOP). Once the main hazards that will be tackled through the FbF mechanism are selected, the menu of triggers’ options are developed with the following four steps:

1. Review and analyze the available early warning system, risk assessments, and forecasts.

2. Define danger levels for the selected hazards and for the intervention area.

3. Assess the accuracy of the available forecast for the intervention area.

4. Design the menu of triggers – the options for triggering early actions.

The above steps are described in detail in the document. The menu of triggers can be developed for any hazard, including floods, cyclones, cold waves, heat waves, and droughts.

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