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disaster risk management

After disasters hit, how countries and communities can build back better

Sameh Wahba's picture
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Disaster losses disproportionately affect poor people, according to the 2017 “Unbreakable” report. The Caribbean Hurricane season of 2017 was a tragic illustration of this.

Not one, but two Category 5 hurricanes wreaked destruction on numerous small islands, causing severe damages on islands like Barbuda, Dominica, and Saint Martin. The human cost of these disasters was immense, and the impact of this devastation was felt most strongly by poorer communities in the path of the storms.
 
And yet, amidst the destruction, it is essential to look forward and to build back better.
 
A new report, “Building Back Better: Achieving Resilience through Strong, Faster, and More Inclusive Post-Disaster Reconstruction,” explores how countries can strengthen their resilience to natural shocks through a better reconstruction process. It shows that reconstruction needs to be: 

 

Leaving no one behind in development: a roadmap for disability inclusion

Maninder Gill's picture
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More than one billion people globally – about 15% of the world’s population – are estimated to have a disability. Most of them live in developing countries. This number is expected to increase as aging, war and conflict, natural disasters, forced displacement, and other factors continue to affect the prevalence of disability.

Persons with disabilities face higher rates of poverty compared with persons without disabilities. They encounter attitudinal and environmental barriers that hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others. Persons with disabilities’ lower rates of economic and labor market participation also impose a higher welfare burden on governments.

The global development and poverty reduction agenda will not be effective unless it addresses the socioeconomic inequality of persons with disabilities and ensures their participation in all stages of development programs. With a focus on social inclusion, disability-inclusive development is directly responsive to the World Bank’s twin goals of ending extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity.

Disability Inclusion and Accountability Framework

Over the last several years, the World Bank has accelerated its support for disability-inclusive development with significant strides in operations and analytical work.

This has culminated in World Bank’s first Disability Inclusion and Accountability Framework, which offers a roadmap for:
  1. Including disability in the World Bank’s policies, operations, and analytical work; and
  2. Building internal capacity for supporting clients in implementing disability-inclusive development programs.
The Framework is also relevant to policymakers, government officials, other development organizations, and persons with disabilities.

The Framework has been launched today on the occasion of the 11th Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities at the United Nations, the premier international gathering of governments, development practitioners, and civil society working on disability inclusion.

How will the Framework support development work?

The Framework provides four main principles for guiding the World Bank’s engagement with persons with disabilities:
  • Nondiscrimination and equality
  • Accessibility
  • Inclusion and participation
  • Partnership and collaboration

The appendices to this Framework highlight key areas of engagement for a significant impact on the inclusion, empowerment, and full participation of persons with disabilities.

These areas include transport, urban development, disaster risk management, education, social protection, jobs and employment, information and communication technology, water sector operations, and health care.

The Framework is a living document that will be reviewed periodically and strengthened with new focus areas and evidence to reflect ongoing developments.

We invite you to download the Disability Inclusion and Accountability Framework. We hope you find it useful for your work to build inclusive, resilient, and sustainable cities and communities for all.

Thank goodness, we had an extra bridge in stock!

Malaika Becoulet's picture
Credit: Joshua Stevens/NASA Earth Observatory
On October 4, 2016, category 4 Hurricane Matthew struck the southern part of Haiti. Strong winds and rain triggered heavy flooding and landslides that resulted in 500 fatalities, along with widespread infrastructure damage and economic loss. The hurricane caused the collapse of the Ladigue Bridge, a vital asset connecting the southern peninsula of Haiti to the capital city and the rest of the country. The collapse left 1.4 million people completely isolated, making it extremely hard to deliver the aid and humanitarian assistance they needed. Overall damage and losses were equivalent to 32% of GDP, with transport accounting for almost a fifth of the total.
 
Haiti is among the countries that are most vulnerable to natural disasters including hurricanes, floods, and earthquakes—the result of a combination of factors that include high exposure to natural hazards, vulnerable infrastructure, environmental degradation, institutional fragility, and a lack of adequate investment in resilience. In Haiti, 80% of people and goods are transported by road. First aid and humanitarian resources, often concentrated in Port-au-Prince, need to transit through congested and sometimes inaccessible roads to reach affected areas. In that context, strengthening and building resilient infrastructure is key.
 
Since 2008, the World Bank has supported the reconstruction of 15 major bridges and stabilized 300 kilometers of roads to enhance the resilience of Haiti’s transport network. One of the most significant innovations that came out of this effort was the adoption of standardized emergency bridges that can be assembled within 2- 3 months from pre-designed and interchangeable components.

Celebrating World Environment Day and building resilience in Freetown, Sierra Leone

Robert Reid's picture
Samking Koihinah Braima, deputy minister of Agriculture and Forestry, plants a tree on behalf of President Julius Maada Bio. Photo: Asad Naveed/World Bank

To celebrate World Environment Day, hundreds of Freetonians came together to plant a tree in honor of the more than 1,000 people killed and missing after devastating landslides and floods tore through Freetown less than a year ago. The landslide and flood waters ripped through the capital city with tremendous energy, destroying everything in its path. It was reported that a huge wave of boulders, building debris and mud cascaded down the river channel immediately after the landslide. The disaster affected more than 6,000 people and caused significant destruction and damage to critical infrastructure.

Making the built environment more resilient: lessons learned from Japan

Keiko Sakoda's picture
Photo: Balint Földesi / Flickr CC


Globally, up to 1.4 million people are moving into urban areas per week, and estimates show that nearly 1 billion new dwelling units will be built by 2050 to support this growing population. The way we build our cities today directly impacts the safety of future generations.

So how do we ensure that we are building healthy, safe, and resilient cities?

What Super Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines told us about building back better

Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez's picture
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The Philippines is increasingly exposed and vulnerable to natural hazards.
 
Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), which struck the country in 2013, was considered one of the strongest tropical storms ever to make landfall (at 380 kilometer / hour wind gusts). It caused over 6,300 fatalities and affected 1,472,251 families in 171 cities and municipalities across the 14 provinces in 6 regions. Total damage and loss was estimated at $12.9 billion (Reconstruction Assistance on Yolanda 2013).
 
The World Bank assessed the post-Yolanda rehabilitation and recovery efforts, and this has resulted in the following recommendations:

 

Understanding Risk Forum 2018: How data and technology can save (hundreds of) billions of dollars from natural disasters

Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez's picture
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Natural disasters made 2017 a very expensive year.
 
At $330 billion, last year’s global losses from disasters set a record. These economic losses were primarily a result of meteorological events, such as floods and hurricanes, which are increasing in frequency and intensity due to climate change. An increasing number of people are also exposed to tectonic risks, such as earthquakes and landslides, due to rapid urbanization.
 
But growing disaster losses aren’t inevitable. Policy changes, education, and good disaster risk management practices have been proven to reduce losses – and the foundation of all of them is accurate, reliable information about disaster risks.
 
Risk data informs resilience investments. It drives decision-making. And it’s the focus of the open, global community of disaster risk management experts and practitioners called Understanding Risk (UR), which is supported by the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR).
 
This year, the community will convene at the Understanding Risk Forum 2018 May 14–18 in Mexico City. The Forum will highlight best practices, facilitate nontraditional partnerships, and showcase the latest technical knowledge in disaster risk identification.



It’s a critical time for a discussion of disaster risk information. A new GFDRR report, Aftershocks: Remodeling the Past for a Resilient Future, concludes that if past disasters were to repeat in the same places today, the losses would be far greater. Aftershocks, which will be discussed at UR2018, explores what we can learn from historic disasters to anticipate similar future events and build resilience ahead of time.
 
The good news is that the past few years have seen a surge of new ways to get more accurate, more detailed information more quickly, more easily, and in more difficult contexts. We can now use social media to gather increasingly valuable information in the immediate aftermath of an event. Drones are increasingly capturing high-quality images, and machine learning for image recognition is already helping us produce more and better risk data all the time.
 
These emerging technologies, including artificial intelligence and machine learning, will be one of the major themes of this year’s UR Forum. To find out more about the UR Forum, and how you can get involved, watch the video blog and visit understandrisk.org.
 
And don’t forget to keep up with all the great ideas coming out of #UR2018 by following along on Twitter: @UnderstandRisk, @GFDRR, and @WBG_Cities.

Tackling a known unknown: How post-disaster aid can provide what people really need

Markus Kostner's picture
Photo: Patrick Barron (World Bank)

Within a few weeks of the disaster, the tents, half a dozen of them, were lined up along a creek where houses with bamboo walls and nipa roofs had once stood. They were brand new… and empty. They had been provided to survivors of Nargis, the cyclone that killed an estimated 140,000 people in the Ayeyarwady Delta of Myanmar in one night in 2008.
 
However, despite these provisions, the cyclone survivors preferred to stay in makeshift huts they had built on the other side of the village path with any materials they could find. The tents were too flimsy, they said, and could fly away if another storm kicked up.

Sometime thereafter, they packed the tents neatly and stored them with other items they had also received and never used: sleeping bags much too warm for the monsoon climate, and gasoline stoves where no gasoline was sold.

“The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” – William Faulkner

Barbara Minguez Garcia's picture
Ponto-cho Alley, Kyoto. (Barbara Minguez Garcia / World Bank, 2016)
Ponto-cho Alley, Kyoto. (Barbara Minguez Garcia / World Bank, 2016)
 

Ponto-cho mapIt is 7:45 p.m. in Ponto-cho, the historic narrow alley at the core of the Japanese city of Kyoto. Close to the Kaburenjo Theater – where still today Geikos and Maikos (Kyoto Geishas) practice their dances and performances – the traditional adjoining buildings with restaurants and shops are full of guests. Local people, tourists, students… On this Saturday in mid-April, the warm weather brings a lot of people to the streets nearby.

At 7:46 p.m., a M 5.1 earthquake strikes. Seven seconds of swaying. It doesn’t cause major damage, but it is enough to spread panic among a group of tourists. Screams, shoving, confusion… drinks spill, candles fall, people rush.

At 7:49 p.m., the fire starts spreading through the old wooden structures, also threatening the historic theater. Access is difficult due to the narrow streets and panicking crowd.

What happens next?

It could be a fire in the Ponto-cho traditional alley. It could be an earthquake shaking the historic center of Kathmandu (Nepal), the archaeological site of Bagan (Myanmar), or the historic town of Amatrice (Italy). It could be Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines or Hurricane Irma in the Caribbean, blasting sites with rain, flooding, and gale-force winds.

Cultural heritage assets around the world are at risk. They are often vulnerable due to their age, as well as previous interventions and restorations made without disaster risk or overall site stability in mind. Heritage sites reflect legacies, traditions, and identities. With all this, they carry a large cultural and emotional value of what could be lost – certainly beyond the traditional calculus of economic losses.

In many cases, it is not possible or advisable to conduct reconstruction on cultural heritage sites post-disaster. Therefore, the essence and soul of a cultural heritage site is at risk of being lost forever, making preparedness and preservation even more critical.

How can we protect these special places and traditions from the threat of natural hazards?

Go with the flow – adaptive management for urban flood risk

Adeline Choy's picture
Photo: Flooding in Yangon. Source: Flickr


The future is uncertain. It’s hard to know exactly how our climate will change. That means there is also deep uncertainty around its impacts on flooding, the most prevalent disaster worldwide. Floods account for 43% of all recorded disaster events in the past 20 years. Will climate change exacerbate flooding events? How much will sea level rise? How extreme will rainfall be?

What we do know is that the best way to cope with uncertainty is flexibility.

While it may be difficult to predict impacts, we can – and must – take action. Growing uncertainty means preparation is even more urgent. To meet future challenges, we need adaptable urban flood management today.


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