Can a country prepare for the unforeseen?

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Wounta, Nicaragua Wounta, Nicaragua

In a year already like none other, the 2020 hurricane season broke records with 30 named storms, surpassing the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season, which to date was the most active on record. The last two powerful tropical storms, Eta and Iota, also broke records.  

For the first time in history, two hurricanes of category 4 or above made landfall in Nicaragua and Honduras within two weeks. These events caused further devastation in those countries already struggling to respond to the COVID-19  (coronavirus) crisis. That’s why mainstreaming disaster risk management (DRM) into development planning is essential to reversing the current trend of rising disaster impact.  

The case of Nicaragua 

In November 2020, when Eta and Iota hit, in Nicaragua alone over three million people suffered their devastating effects. In its post-disaster response however, Nicaragua showed that it has gradually transitioned from a reactive disaster-focused approach to one with a more proactive DRM approach. Disaster risk management has now become an important tool for sustainable development, informing decisions under uncertain emergency situations.  

There are five areas worth highlighting in Nicaragua’s most recent response:  


                                        Timeline: Nicaraguan loss and damage assessment process


Timeline: Nicaraguan loss and damage assessment process


In other words, preparedness pays off. This is essential in countries where the poor and vulnerable suffer disproportionately from the impacts of disasters. When countries prepare, they set themselves on the path to rebuild stronger, faster and more inclusively after a disaster, minimizing the damage caused to people’s livelihoods and well-being. 


Anna Wellenstein

Regional Director, East Asia and Pacific, Sustainable Development Practice Group, World Bank

Mirtha Escobar

Senior Disaster Risk Management Specialist

Haris Sanahuja

Senior Disaster Risk Management Specialist

Cecilia Martínez Gómez

External Relations Associate

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