Published on Sustainable Cities

When disasters displace people, land records and geospatial data are key to protect property rights and build resilience

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Droughts, floods, hurricanes, and other disasters displaced over 24 million people in 2016. When people leave their homes behind, land records offer critical protection of their property rights.  This is crucial, as land and homes are usually the main assets that people have. Land and geospatial information is key to ensure that land records are comprehensive and secure. 

Land and geospatial information tells the what, who, where, how much, and other key attributes of a property. Without this information, it is almost impossible for cities and communities to develop proper disaster response or preparedness plans.

Comprehensive land and geospatial systems can secure the resilient recovery of economic activities  – by providing accessible and instant data on disaster impact, the value of losses, the beneficiaries, as well as the levels of appropriate compensation and required investment to restore activities.

In fact, land and geospatial information plays an important role in all phases of disaster risk management: disaster prediction (simulation and visualization), prevention, preparedness and mitigation, emergency response, evacuation planning, search and rescue, shelter operations, and the post-disaster restoration and monitoring.

Moreover, robust land and geospatial systems can help increase resilience by providing detailed and comprehensive information on earth’s surface to demonstrate physical hazards with detailed geographical impact areas, and on tenure and land use, and property assets and their values, to guide development of more effective policies, land use planning, and investments.

The World Bank and the University of Melbourne are conducting a study, supported by the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR), to better understand the role of national land and geospatial systems in disaster resilience. The study aims to mobilize investments to increase the resilience, sustainability, and security of land administration and geospatial systems, as well as to improve the quality and accessibility of land and geospatial data services for resilience.

Watch the video to learn more about the important role land and geospatial systems play in building resilient cities and communities amid increasing disaster risks.



Anna Wellenstein

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

Mika-Petteri Torhonen

Lead Land Administration Specialist

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