“Tell the future generations that a tsunami once reached this point and those who survived were those who ran uphill. So run! Run uphill!” reads a memorial stone on the coast of Kamaishi, Japan.
Monuments like this remind us of the need to be prepared for natural disasters, which have put people and infrastructure at risk for centuries, particularly in parts of Asia. Asia is one of the most disaster-affected regions in the world. It suffered 61 percent of global losses over the past 20 years; more than 1.6 billion people have been affected by disasters there since 2000.
With each natural disaster, the region has built increasing expertise in response, recovery, and resilience. To share that knowledge around the world, the World Bank announced that it is establishing a Disaster Risk Management Hub in Tokyo. The hub, to be launched in 2014 and housed in the World Bank offices, is part of a US$100 million program funded by the government of Japan to mainstream disaster risk management in development policies and programs.
"Disaster and climate resilience are increasingly a priority for the World Bank Group. Scaled up support from the government of Japan will further strengthen our long-standing commitment and effort to integrate risk considerations in all aspects of our work and help countries reduce their vulnerability to natural hazards and climate variability," said Rachel Kyte, vice president for sustainable development at the World Bank.
The new program stems from a commitment made at the Sendai Dialogue, a meeting of global leaders held in October 2012 near the epicenter of the Great East Japan earthquake. It will finance activities across four pillars of the World Bank’s disaster risk management framework identified in the Sendai Report.
"This program brings us a big step forward in implementing the commitments made in Sendai," said Francis Ghesquiere, head of the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery. "Through this joint program, the government of Japan, the World Bank, and GFDRR will step up support to vulnerable countries."