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Disasters

What if we could use nature to prevent disasters?

Brenden Jongman's picture
 

Heavy rain and severe flooding brought the city of Colombo, Sri Lanka, to its knees. In China’s Yangtze River Basin, rivers spilled their banks, inundating towns and villages. In Mobile Bay, Alabama, strong ocean waves carried away valuable coastline.

In each of these locations, disasters caused by natural hazards seemed beyond human control. But instead of focusing only on building more drains, seawalls and dams, these governments turned to nature for protection from the disasters. Several years later, the urban wetlands, oyster reefs and flood plains they helped establish are now keeping their citizens safe while nourishing the local economies.

Disasters due to natural hazards are just the tip of the iceberg in MENA cities

Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez's picture
 

Resilience is increasingly recognized as a key attribute of an effective urban system. Discussions on resilience often center around disasters caused by natural hazards. However, cities are increasingly exposed to multiple shocks and stresses beyond disasters. Cities in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) are no different and are equally if not more vulnerable to a large set of shocks.

How are we approaching the intersection of fragility, conflict and violence, and disaster risk?

Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez's picture
 

We are facing an unprecedented era of increasingly complex crises. A growing number of countries are affected by both recurring disasters caused by natural hazards and protracted crises associated with fragility, conflict and violence (FCV). Violent conflict has spiked dramatically since 2010 and the fragility landscape is becoming more complex. Two billion people now live in countries affected by FCV. By 2020, it is estimated that between 43% and 60% of the world’s extreme poor will live in FCV countries.

Building a more resilient caribbean to natural disasters and climate change

Inci Otker's picture

The blog draws on joint ongoing and published work with several IMF staff, including Leo Bonato, Aliona Cebotari, Julian Chow, Alejandro Guerson, Franz Loyola, Sònia Muñoz, Uma Ramakrishnan, Ippei Shibata, Krishna Srinivasan and Karim Youssef.

Five years since its launch, the key messages of the World Development Report on Risk and Opportunity (WDR 2014) remain as pertinent as they were back then. WDR 2014 argued that risk management can be a powerful instrument for development, as mismanaged risks can destroy lives, assets, and economic and social stability, with the poor often hit the hardest. Managing risk plays an important role in increasing resilience to adverse shocks. It needs to combine the capacity to prepare for risk with the ability to cope afterward, considering how upfront costs of preparation compare with its potential benefits.

How to remain a poverty reduction champion: Overcoming Cabo Verde’s challenges

Rob Swinkels's picture

Few countries can match Cabo Verde’s development progress over the past quarter of a century. Its Gross National Income per capita (GNI) grew six-fold. Extreme poverty fell by two-thirds from 30% in 2001 (when poverty measurement began) to 10% in 2015 (see first chart) which translates into an annual poverty reduction rate of 3.6%, outperforming any other African country during this period. Non-monetary poverty also dropped fast (see second chart). In many ways, Cabo Verde is a development star, and these achievements were made despite the disadvantage it faces as a small island economy in the middle of the Atlantic.

Operationalizing the Action Plan on Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience

Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez's picture
 

The World Bank Group has launched its Action Plan on Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience.  As an institution that is committed to development, the World Bank has an enormous responsibility to help countries and communities act early, to build resilience to what we know they are going to be facing – more frequent and more dramatic climate disasters because of climate change. 
 
In fact, over the past 30 years, more than 2.5 million people and almost $4 trillion have been lost to disasters caused by natural hazards, with global losses quadrupling from $50 billion a year in the 1980s to $200 billion in the last decade, reaching $330 billion in global losses in 2017.

Sustainable Mobility for All: Changing the mindset, changing policies

Nancy Vandycke's picture
Photo: Photoviriya/Shutterstock
The global conversation on transport and mobility has evolved significantly over the past five years. Take transport and climate, for instance: although data on the carbon footprint of major transport modes had been available for a long time, it was not until COP21 in 2015 that mobility became a central part of the climate agenda. The good news is that, during that same period, the space of solutions expanded as well.  For example, data sharing is now viewed as an obvious way to promote better integration between urban transport modes in cities.

In that context, the task at hand for the Sustainable Mobility for All initiative (SuM4All) was clear: How can we work with decision-makers and the international community to transform the conversation, harness the full potential of these emerging solutions, and take on the world’s most pressing mobility issues?

To tackle these challenges, the initiative decided to focus on three essential steps.

Celebrating 40 years of engagement with Maldives

Idah Z. Pswarayi-Riddihough's picture
The World Bank Group (WBG) and Maldives have had a trusted partnership for the past 40 years, which has seen tremendous growth and development in the country.

Over this period, Maldives has transformed from being among the poorest countries in the world to having a per capita GDP of over $10,000 and boasts impressive human development achievements, with a life expectancy of over 77 years and nearly 100% literacy.

However, vulnerability to environmental sustainability and climate change are among the challenges that the country faces. 

To help respond to them, the WBG continues to work closely with Maldives to help realize the aspirations of its people through enhancing employment and economic opportunities, strengthening natural resources management and climate resilience, while improving public financial management and policy-making through strengthening institutions.

Here are five milestones of our engagement:

1. Joining the World Bank
Maldives joins World Bank
Photo Credit: World Bank Group Archives
On January 13, 1978, Maldives became the 131st member of the World Bank and the International Development Association (IDA), the fund that helps the poorest countries through interest-free credits.

The Articles of Agreements were signed by His Excellency Fathulla Jameel, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Maldives to the United Nations. At that time, Maldives had a GDP per capita of just over $200 and had achieved independence only 13 years prior.

2. First project signing
Maldives 1st Project Signing
Photo Credit: World Bank Group Archives

 Maldives signed its first project to help increase fisheries production with the World Bank on June 4, 1979.

The project helped mechanize fishing craft, established repair centers, and installed navigational aids to increase the safety of fishing operations.

Those present for the signing from left to right, Said El-Naggar, Executive Director of the World Bank for Maldives, His Excellency Ahamed Zaki, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Maldives to the United Nations, and Robert Picciottto, Projects Director for South Asia.

Across Africa, disaster risk finance is putting a resilient future within reach

Hugo Wesley's picture
The Africa Disaster Risk Financing Initiative supports agriculture insurance programs which unlock critical assess to credit for low-income farmers in Kenya, as well as in Uganda and Rwanda. Photo Credit: World Bank


Sub-Saharan Africa knows more than its fair share of disasters induced by natural hazards. The past few months alone have seen drought in the Horn of Africa, floods in Mali and Rwanda, and landslides in Ethiopia and Uganda. Between 2005 and 2015, the region experienced an average of 157 disasters per year, claiming the lives of roughly 10,000 people annually.

Turning ‘disability’ into ‘ability’: opportunities to promote disability inclusive development in Indonesia

Jian Vun's picture



Before joining the World Bank, I worked as an urban designer and often provided advice on how the design of proposed developments could be more accessible for people with disabilities. Sadly, many developers tend to consider disability inclusion as an afterthought, meaning they incurred additional costs to retrofit poor designs, or worse, inadvertently restricted access for certain people.

Such oversights create cities that are not ‘friendly’ for people of all abilities. Disasters can further exacerbate such challenges, such as through inaccessible evacuation routes or information, poorly­‑designed shelters, loss of assistive aids, and limited opportunities to rebuild livelihoods.


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