• climate;
  • disaster;
  • early warning;
  • flood;
  • preparedness;
  • seasonal forecast

In 2008, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) used a seasonal forecast for West Africa for the first time to implement an Early Warning, Early Action strategy for enhanced flood preparedness and response. Interviews with disaster managers suggest that this approach improved their capacity and response. Relief supplies reached flood victims within days, as opposed to weeks in previous years, thereby preventing further loss of life, illness, and setbacks to livelihoods, as well as augmenting the efficiency of resource use. This case demonstrates the potential benefits to be realised from the use of medium-to-long-range forecasts in disaster management, especially in the context of potential increases in extreme weather and climate-related events due to climate variability and change. However, harnessing the full potential of these forecasts will require continued effort and collaboration among disaster managers, climate service providers, and major humanitarian donors.