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At TEDxSendai, Stories, Ideas, and Hope on Resilience After Disaster

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SENDAI, JAPAN | When natural disasters hit, the bonds of community are what fuel the push to rebuild.

Governments and others should help instill resiliency into the social fabric of communities – in addition to the usual resources -- so that when disasters happen, recovery is within reach.

That was the message echoed by several speakers at TEDxSendai, a dialogue on natural disasters set amid an area of Japan hard hit by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

The three-hour event was capped off by a surprise visit by World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim.

“It is possible to build resilience into our systems,” Dr. Kim told the audience in Sendai, which is the largest city in the Tohoku region of Japan.

TEDxSendai featured a roster of speakers who examined the natural disaster issue through the lens of policy, business, art, technology, and more.

Local speakers included Yoshi Tabata, a survivor the Showa Sanriku Great Tsunami, which hit Japan on March 3, 1933. Tabata presented a powerful photo essay based on her experience called “A Tsunami.”

Patrick Meier, Director of Social Innovation at Qatar Foundation’s Computing Research Institute, shared his hope to build advanced computing systems that would help governments, NGOs, and individuals respond quickly to natural disasters.

“[The] real first responders in disasters are disaster-affected people,” said Meier.

Rachel Kyte, World Bank Vice President of Sustainable Development, discussed the role of private and public partnerships when it comes to preventing and responding to natural disasters.

“We know empirically, communities that have stronger social bonds do better during disasters,” said Kyte, referring to the importance of family and friends during a crisis.

Explore the full speaker lineup and more about TEDxSendai on its website.

What do you think governments and communities can do to prevent or recover from natural disasters? Tell us in the comments.

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Ravi Kumar

Team Leader, Data Use and Literacy Program

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