Topic outline

Acting early before a disaster has actually happened or reached its peak is critical: it can save lives and protect livelihoods from the immediate shocks, as well as protecting long-term development gains by increasing the resilience of local communities over time. Using a series of examples and case studies from different countries and contexts, this course provides guidance to set-up an anticipatory action system, i.e. a set of provisions to link early warning signals to anticipatory action options and implementation arrangements.

The course focuses on anticipatory action in the context of food security and agriculture.

This course was originally published in November 2020 and updated in May 2023.


The course is targeted at professionals working on humanitarian assistance and disaster risk management. Individuals who would especially benefit from taking the course include:

  • Technical practitioners, particularly those involved in work related to food security, agriculture, disaster risk reduction and humanitarian assistance.
  • Government ministries, particularly those involved in agriculture, hydrology, meteorology, disaster risk management, and social protection.
  • Donors, particularly those interested in supporting anticipatory action, disaster risk reduction, climate change adaptation and/ or humanitarian assistance to ensure food security.

  • Anticipatory action and its role within the risk management system.
  • Ranking disaster risks in a given location to determine the priorities for anticipatory action.
  • Assessing available early warning information.
  • Setting-up an early warning system.
  • Using a crisis timeline to identify windows of opportunities for anticipatory action.
  • Prioritizing anticipatory actions and preparing an Anticipatory Action Plan.
  • Analysing the impact of anticipatory action projects.

The course consists of 6 lessons, ranging from approximately 15 to 40 minutes duration each: 

  • Lesson 1 – Getting started 
  • Lesson 2 – Prioritizing risks 
  • Lesson 3 – Identifying early warning information 
  • Lesson 4 – Setting-up an early warning system 
  • Lesson 5 – Identifying anticipatory action 
  • Lesson 6 – Implementing and analyzing impact of anticipatory action

The online version of this course runs on the latest versions of the major browsers, such as Chrome, Safari, Edge and Firefox.

The downloadable version only runs on Windows PC’s and no additional software is needed.

Digital certification

This course offers certification. You will get your digital badge upon passing a final exam after completing the course and achieving a grade of at least 75%. Please click on the button below to complete the exam, or refer to our Certification section to learn more.

The final assessment test can be accessed from inside the course. The pass grade is 75%

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    • Partners

       SIDAGovernment of Belgium.