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Disasters

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

[Also available in Japanese]

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?

Towards a culture of prevention: Disaster risk reduction begins at home!

Jorge Luis Alva-Luperdi's picture

As May 31st comes around yet again, I’m reminded of this date 48 years ago. The peaceful South American country of Peru was going about another normal day… until the clock struck 3:23 pm. Life changed in the blink of an eye, as an 8.0 magnitude earthquake hit the Peruvian regions of Ancash and La Libertad. It was an unimaginable catastrophe. 

The town of Yungay, in Ancash, was almost flattened in just 45 seconds — the earthquake smashed homes, schools, and public infrastructure. The shock of the quake destabilized glaciers on the mountain known as Huascaran, located 15 km east of Yungay, causing millions of cubic meters of rock, ice, and snow to come tearing down at high speeds towards Yungay. Within minutes, the city was buried, along with almost 25,000 of its residents, many of whom had run to church to pray after the earthquake.

This “Great Peruvian Earthquake” of 1970 is a landmark in the history of natural disasters. The overall toll was around 74,000 people dead; about 25,600 people declared missing; 43,000 injured; and many more were left homeless, including thousands of children. Only 350 people survived in Yungay — they had climbed to the town’s elevated cemetery, a curious case of the living seeking refuge among the dead. Elsewhere, a circus clown saved 300 children by taking them to a local stadium.

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:

 

The 2018 Atlas of Sustainable Development Goals: an all-new visual guide to data and development

World Bank Data Team's picture
Download PDF (30Mb) / View Online

“The World Bank is one of the world’s largest producers of development data and research. But our responsibility does not stop with making these global public goods available; we need to make them understandable to a general audience.

When both the public and policy makers share an evidence-based view of the world, real advances in social and economic development, such as achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), become possible.” - Shanta Devarajan

We’re pleased to release the 2018 Atlas of Sustainable Development Goals. With over 180 maps and charts, the new publication shows the progress societies are making towards the 17 SDGs.

It’s filled with annotated data visualizations, which can be reproducibly built from source code and data. You can view the SDG Atlas online, download the PDF publication (30Mb), and access the data and source code behind the figures.

This Atlas would not be possible without the efforts of statisticians and data scientists working in national and international agencies around the world. It is produced in collaboration with the professionals across the World Bank’s data and research groups, and our sectoral global practices.
 

Trends and analysis for the 17 SDGs

Informing rapid emergency response by phone surveys

Utz Pape's picture

In 2017, a severe and prolonged drought had hit countries in Africa and the Middle East, bringing crop shortage, livestock death, water scarcity and disease. Food shortages escalated into near-famine conditions in countries with low resilience against shocks, such as Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen. In such a context, rapid quantitative data is required to respond to urgent developmental needs of the affected populations. Therefore, we designed and implemented the Rapid Emergency Response Survey (RERS).

Empowering Indian women after a natural disaster hits

Hyunjee Oh's picture
In June 2013, a heavy deluge caused devastating floods and landslides in the state of Uttarakhand in India’s Himalayan foothills. Damyanti Devi, the mother of a young daughter, lost her home and livelihood. Her old house in Rudraprayag was completely washed away by the landslide.
In June 2013, a heavy deluge caused devastating floods and landslides in the state of Uttarakhand in India’s Himalayan foothills. Damyanti Devi, the mother of a young daughter, lost her home and livelihood. Her old house in Rudraprayag was completely washed away by the landslide.


This blog is part of a series exploring housing reconstruction progress in Uttarakhand, India.
  
In June 2013, a heavy deluge caused devastating floods and landslides in the state of Uttarakhand in India’s Himalayan foothills.
 
The disaster – the worst in the country since the 2003 tsunami—hit more than 4,200 villages, damaged 2,500 houses, and killed 4,000 people.
 
Damyanti Devi, the mother of a young daughter, lost her home and livelihood. Her old house in Rudraprayag was completely washed away by the landslide.
 
“The river was fast swelling up,” she said. “It had crossed the danger mark and reached close to our house. We just took our daughter and left with an umbrella and a lantern.”
 
She now owns a new house abuzz with music and her daughter’s laughs.
 
Like thousands of other people in Uttarakhand, Damyanti received support through the World Bank and the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) to rebuild her home.
 
This support channeled through the Uttarakhand Disaster Recovery Project (UDRP) also helped build better roads and mitigate future disaster risks in local communities.
 
A key component of the project was to rebuild 2,382 more resilient houses based on the owner-driven housing reconstruction model,  which allows families to rebuild according to their specific needs.
 
This community-driven approach is important as women are typically at greater risk from natural hazards than men, particularly those who are poor and live in low-income countries.
 
There is indeed strong evidence that disasters impact women differently and amplify gender inequalities.
 
Women and men have different perceptions of their surroundings and coping abilities, roles, responsibilities, and resources before or in the aftermath of a disaster.
 
Gender-sensitive approaches to disaster prevention, mitigation, adaptation, relief, recovery, and reconstruction can save more lives and promote more gender-inclusive development.  

With that in mind, the  housing reconstruction component of UDRP helped empower women like Damyanti in the aftermath of a disaster in 4 different ways:

Wenchuan Earthquake, ten years on: Building back stronger

Yi Shi's picture
Photo:Mara Warwick/World Bank

It’s been ten years since the Wenchuan Earthquake struck China, leaving an everlasting scar on ravaged land, but also revealing the strong and unyielding will of the Chinese people.

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.

“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?


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