Screening for climate and disaster risks – an imperative for climate resilient development

This page in:
Climate and Disaster Risk Screening Tools

If you think that climate change is a distant and future threat, you are in for a rude awakening. I just returned from Zambia, where I witnessed how communities in the Barotse basin located in the western province are coping with varying weather conditions. On the one hand, high temperatures and drought led to the loss of their maize crops while delayed and fluctuating rainfall patterns challenged rice planting in the wetter plains, devastating the livelihoods of communities in the region.

Such changing weather patterns and the impacts of rising temperatures, already evident at a global mean temperature increase of 0.8°C above pre-industrial levels, are not likely to relent anytime soon. In fact, according to the recent World Bank report Turn Down the Heat – Confronting a New Climate Normal, things are going to get worst. The report suggests that, even with very ambitious mitigation action, we may be locked into warming close to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels by mid-century. Unfortunately, while everyone will be affected by a changing climate, it is the poor and the most vulnerable and those least able to adapt who are hardest hit. Clearly, we cannot ignore the increasing climate risks and continue on a business-as-usual approach to development. 

With this in mind, the International Development Association, the World Bank’s fund for the poorest, has recognized climate change as one of the major issues to be addressed in order to maximize and safeguard development impact. In response, the World Bank has developed and launched a set of online Climate and Disaster Risk Screening Tools. These tools provide a systematic and consistent way of considering short and long-term climate and disaster risks at an early-stage of project and national/sector planning processes. Screening is a first but essential step to make sure that these risks are assessed and managed in development planning.

These open source screening tools are universally applicable, and do not require one to be a climate expert. In fact, the tools are designed to help raise awareness of the challenges posed by climate change, while enhancing the ability of the user to think through these risks more routinely over time.

These self-paced tools are offered at both the strategic and the investment levels. The national tool targets national planning processes, sector-wide strategies, development policy reforms and institutional strengthening at sector and national level. The project level tools target investments in key sectors including agriculture, water, roads, coastal flood protection, energy, and health. Additionally there is a menu driven tool that targets investments for a range of other sectors, including natural resource management (forest, fisheries, biodiversity), education, financial management, urban, non-road transport, social and community development.

The screening process will provide users with an overview of risks for key aspects of their project/program. These early screening results could inform consultations, dialogue, and form the basis for follow-up work including detailed technical assessments and feasibility studies.

When characterizing climate and disaster risks, the tools take into account the critical importance of the type of technical expertise of the user (e.g. road engineers, agriculturists, water engineers, health practitioners, and policy level planners), and their understanding of the local context. Users also have the opportunity to collaborate during the screening process, thus tapping into the collective knowledge of the team to work on the deliberations. 

The tools are built based on the approaches used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and USAID and are linked with the World Bank’s Climate Change Knowledge Portal, which distils and presents climate information at the country level for more than 100 countries based on the most recent IPCC report.

Now that you know what the screening tools have to offer, if you are interested in screening a program/project at the concept stage or if you are looking for complementary resources to help you manage climate risks, I invite you to explore them at


Kanta Kumari Rigaud

Lead Environment Specialist

Join the Conversation

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly
Remaining characters: 1000