Published on Sustainable Cities

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

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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: 


  • Strong, so that assets and livelihoods become less vulnerable to future shocks;
  • Fast, so that people can get back to their normal life as early as possible; and 
  • Inclusive, so that nobody is left behind in the recovery process.

This report shows how the benefits of building back better could be very large – up to $173 billion per year – and that these benefits would be greatest among the communities and countries that are hit by disasters most intensely and frequently.
For a selection of small island states, the “Building Back Better” report shows that faster, stronger, and more inclusive recovery would lead to an average reduction in annual disaster-related well-being losses of 59%.  In these countries and in the rest of the world, reconstruction offers an opportunity to learn from disasters and ensure that we break the cycle of repeated catastrophes.
Download the report here: Building Back Better: Achieving Resilience through Strong, Faster, and More Inclusive Post-Disaster Reconstruction
Tweet these: 

If all countries were to “build back stronger” in the next 20 years, global well-being losses due to disasters would be reduced by 12%, a gain equivalent to $65 billion annually. #BuildBackBetter 

If the average reconstruction speed could be reduced by 2/3, global well-being losses could be reduced by 14% -- equivalent to increasing global consumption by over $75 billion per year. #BuildBackBetter  

Rebuilding stronger, faster, and more inclusively after disasters could generate major benefits totaling $173 billion per year, or 31% of current well-being losses due to disasters. #BuildBackBetter  



Sameh Wahba

Regional Director, Sustainable Development, Europe and Central Asia, The World Bank

Stéphane Hallegatte

Senior Climate Change Adviser, World Bank

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