The World Bank has been steadily increasing its disaster risk management support over the past decade, growing its annual investment by more than 40% in the past six. But as we work to help build resilience on the ground, it’s important to stop and think: are we building resilience for all?
When we design disaster risk management (DRM) projects, are we giving enough thought to bolstering the climate and disaster resilience of all people? Are we considering the specific needs of different genders, the elderly, persons with disabilities, children, and other vulnerable or marginalized people?
Disasters do not impact all people in the same way. For example:
- Older people:
- Persons with disabilities: Persons with disabilities face their own unique set of hurdles depending on their type of disability in an emergency and post-disaster context. For example, some may have challenges evacuating after a disaster due to visual or physical impairments. When a devastating Earthquake and Tsunami hit northern Japan in 2011, the mortality rate of persons with disability was twice that of the total population.
- Marginalized groups: Throughout South Asia, Dalits – formerly known as lower caste people and a culturally marginalized population – have either been denied or given unequal access to clean water, shelter, health services and education following disasters. Culturally marginalized populations often face challenges in obtaining compensation or official post-disaster assistance due to lack of official titles for land and property.
- Women: (e.g. caring for children, elders or sick household members). In Bangladesh, as a result of cyclone-induced flooding from Cyclone Gorky in 1991, women outnumbered men by 14:1 in mortality rate. Numerous global studies also show an increase in sexual and gender-based violence following disaster events.
Often, people have overlapping and intersecting identities (e.g., a disabled elderly Dalit woman) which makes them more vulnerable to the impacts of disasters and can impose multiple layers of discrimination when accessing relief and other post-disaster support.
How can DRM investments address the different needs of these socially excluded people?
To tackle this issue,
Led by the World Bank’s South Asia unit, with support from Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) , the pilot aims to create a set of recommendations summarizing possible entry points – project-specific social inclusion ideas – that are practically replicable to similar projects in other countries and localities based on the DRM activity. A unique feature of this pilot is that it identifies social inclusion entry points for the most common DRM activities in the South Asia region. For example, some of the most common DRM activities in the region are for resilient infrastructure.
To do this, our team first analyzed the South Asia DRM projects to identify and categorize the types of DRM activities that make up the projects in the region. From this analysis, the team was able to see the DRM activities that were the most in-demand. Structural resilience in the built environment, risk assessment and information, and institutional capacity building activities were among the most highly-demanded activities in the region, as well as increasing demands on hydromet activity.
We used the same process of identification and categorization to examine the types of inclusion activities that already exist in active projects because we wanted to better understand the status of social inclusion activities in South Asia DRM projects. For example, a project in Bangladesh improved access to safe water and sanitation, prioritizing the access of women, children, and persons with disabilities and support in the aftermath of a crisis. And during the post-earthquake reconstruction process in Nepal, another project helped ensure women’s participation in risk awareness training for home ownership, recognizing them as change agents.
These examples are great and can be replicated in other projects. After the analysis was completed, the team began action planning to identify more proactive and cutting-edge inclusion activities beyond what was found in existing projects.
The action plans outline entry points for inclusion in high-demand DRM activities, which can be customized for other regions or countries and can help DRM practitioners more easily apply inclusive resilience approaches to their projects.
We will discuss the draft action plans for five pilot countries during the “South Asia – Where Resilience and Inclusion Meet” session at World Reconstruction Conference 4 in Geneva on May 13. Out of this discussion with international experts and the audience, the World Bank’s South Asia unit will support our government counterparts to further refine the priorities and implementation approach of the action plans, in consultation with persons of concern, to ensure that DRM investments in South Asia best achieve social resilience.
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