Disasters hurt the poor and vulnerable the most. Low-income countries account for more than 70 percent of the world’s disaster “hotspots,”  and the world's poor, one-third of whom live in multi-hazard zones, are the most vulnerable. Since 1980, low-income countries have accounted for only 9 percent of disaster events but 48 percent of the fatalities.

The economic impact can be devastating for developing countries. Analysis done for Natural Hazards, UnNatural Disasters, a report funded by the World Bank Group and Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR), shows that disasters’ impact on gross domestic product (GDP) is 20 times higher in developing countries than in industrialized nations. Flooding in Bosnia and Herzegovina in May 2014, for example, set back the economy by about 15 percent of GDP. 

The impact of disasters will continue to rise with climate change exacerbating such trends. The Bank’s Building Resilience report finds that over the last 30 years, natural disasters accounted for close to US$4 trillion in economic losses. During this period, such losses have increased threefold—from US$50 billion a year in the 1980s to just under US$180 billion a year in the last decade. Almost 75 percent of the losses are attributable to extreme weather events.

Mainstreaming disaster risk management in development planning can reverse the current trend of rising disaster impact. Economic development, population growth and rapid urbanization are driving the rising trend in disaster losses. Urban areas are adding nearly 1.4 million inhabitants per week, with 90 percent of this growth taking place in Africa and Asia through 2050. If countries act decisively, they can save lives and assets. However, many developing countries lack the tools, expertise, and instruments to factor the potential impacts of adverse natural events in their investment decisions. 


Last Updated: Mar 01,2015

Over the past 10 years, the World Bank has emerged as the global leader in disaster risk management (DRM); supporting client countries to assess exposure to hazards and address disaster risks. It provides technical and financial support for risk assessments, risk reduction, preparedness, financial protection, and resilient recovery and reconstruction. The Bank’s DRM portfolio has grown about 20 percent annually for the last five years to US$5.3 billion in FY14. In providing support for DRM, the World Bank promotes a comprehensive, multi-sector approach to managing disaster risk.

The Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR), a growing partnership of 41 countries and seven international organizations, is the World Bank’s institutional mechanism for DRM. A new World Bank-GFDRR DRM Hub in Tokyo was established in February 2014 under a $100 million DRM program supported by Japan. The Hub will help to match relevant expertise with World Bank DRM operations and clients. 



Last Updated: Mar 01,2015

Results include:

• In FY14, 80 percent of active World Bank Country Partnership Frameworks incorporated disaster and climate risk analysis.

• Over 100 million people in 50 countries gained improved access to risk information about their country through World Bank-supported national and regional geospatial data sharing platforms since 2010. The Open Data for Resilience Initiative (OpenDRI) is a key component of the World Bank’s commitment to building disaster and climate resilience in some of the world’s poorest regions. This initiative is currently active in more than 25 countries, mapping millions of buildings and urban infrastructure, opening more than 1,300 geospatial datasets to the public, and developing innovative application tools. Among them is the award-winning, free open-source software InaSAFE which produces realistic, natural hazard impact scenarios for better planning, preparedness and response.  

• Introduction of innovative financing mechanisms like the Catastrophe Deferred Drawdown Option (CAT-DDO), expanding the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Facility to Central America and a pilot facility in the Pacific Islands, which in March 2015 announced a $1.9 million pay-out to Vanuatu as part of broader World Bank Group support for the island nation in the aftermath of Cyclone Pam, including an initial scoping mission to assess the impact of the cyclone and the government’s emergency response needs, and help in restoring the tourism sector through an IDA credit of up to $59.5 million for the Vanuatu Aviation Investment Project. 

• A seismic risk assessment of nearly 1,500 public schools in Peru helped leverage a national Structural Retrofitting Program for school infrastructure to ensure the safety of 2 million students in 50,000 schools.

• The World Bank is organizing a start-up competition to encourage female-run business solutions to urban risk in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Women or women-led teams from 100 cities will present high impact business solutions to clearly identified city risks, with top candidates receiving a support package.

• The Bank is providing cutting-edge country capacity building and technical assistance initiatives on disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation, such as in the Philippines where such support led to the government approved $9 billion Metro Manila Flood Management Master Plan. 

• In FY12-14, the Bank invested $1.4 billion in improving disaster preparedness. This included investing in hydro-meteorological and early warning systems. In Nepal, for example GFDRR awarded $600,000 to civil society organizations to build flood resilience using a community-based approach in the Kosi Basin.

• Working with affected communities: in Vietnam through the National DRM project, disaster management activities are being implemented at the community level. Success of an initial pilot of a World Bank community-based DRM project since 2006 has led to government scale up of the approach in 6,000 additional communities through a national $500 million program.

• Since 2007, GFDRR-supported Post Disaster Needs Assessments (PDNAs) leveraged over US$3.3 billion in disaster-specific medium- to long-term recovery and reconstruction investments. These investments are expected to lead to the reconstruction of at least 1.7 million homes, 600 health facilities and 2,300 schools, in turn permitting the return of some 8 million displaced people to their homes and a restoration of health and education facilities for around 3 million people.

• Following Djibouti's severe drought from 2007 to 2011, a GFDRR-supported Post Disaster Needs Assessment mobilized $13 million of World Bank emergency funding for drought mitigation, and an additional $30 million from the international community. These post-disaster interventions are (i) helping Djibouti reduce risks by making water more readily available to farmers in drought-affected areas, and (ii) building resilience to future droughts with the establishment of a national safety net program in the event of a disaster.

• Informing the global DRM agenda with knowledge products including the Disaster Recovery Framework GuideUnderstanding Risk in an Evolving WorldBuilding ResilienceCities and Flooding: A Guide To Integrated Flood Risk ManagementClimate Adaptation Profiles for 31 vulnerable countries, and, in partnership with the Government of Japan, the Sendai Report and Learning from Megadisasters.

• Partnership development and catalysing global knowledge sharing through high level events such as the Resilience Dialogue which takes place on the margins of the Annual and Spring Meetings, the Sendai Dialogue, the second World Reconstruction Conference, the Understanding Risk Forum, and others.


Last Updated: Mar 31,2015

The World Bank works closely with a variety of partners on disaster risk management and response, including UN agencies, regional bodies such as the Africa Union, other multilateral development banks, economic communities such as ECOWAS, civil society organizations, technical agencies, and the private sector:

Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR): GFDRR is a partnership of 41 countries and 8 international organizations committed to helping developing countries reduce their vulnerability to natural hazards and adapt to climate change. The partnership works to mainstream disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation in country development strategies by supporting a country-led and managed implementation of the Hyogo Framework for Action.

Some of the special initiatives that reflect the range of partners that we work with include:

CAPRA Probablistic Risk Assessment Intiative: CAPRA is a Disaster Risk Information Platform for use in decision-making that is based on a unified methodology and tools for evaluating and expressing disaster risk. Building on—and strengthening—existing initiatives, CAPRA was developed by experts to consolidate hazard and risk assessment methodologies and raise risk management awareness.

Pilot Program for Climate Resilience (PPCR): The Pilot Program for Climate Resilience, housed within the Strategic Climate Funds of the Climate Investment Fund, funds technical assistance and investments to support countries’ efforts to integrate climate risk and resilience into core development planning and implementation.

Understanding Risk Network: Understanding Risk is a community of global experts in the field of disaster risk assessment. UR community members share knowledge and experience, collaborate and discuss innovation and best practice in risk assessment. 

Pacific Catastrophe Risk Assessment and Financing Initiative (PCRAFI): PCRAFI, a joint initative of the World Bank, Secretariat of the Pacific Community, and the Asia Development Bank, aims to provide Pacific island nations with disaster risk assessment and financing tools for enhanced disaster risk management and climate change adaptation. 

Open Data for Resilience Initiative (OpenDRI): OpenDRI aims to reduce the impact of disasters by empowering decisions-makers with better information and the tools to support their decisions. OpenDRI is currently implementing ideas in 25 countries to improve disaster and climate change resilience.

Asian Disaster Preparedness Centre (ADPC): ADPC is a regional  organization that promotes safer communities and sustainable development through disaster reduction. ADPC focuses on training and education; provision of technical services; information, research and networking support; and regional program management.

Code4Resilience: Through hackathons and other development events, this innovative project partners local technologists with disaster risk management experts to catalyze software and hardware innovations that improve communities' ability to address challenges around natural disasters.

Last Updated: Mar 25,2014

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Natural Hazards, Unnatural Disasters

This report looks at disasters through an economic lens, using case studies, data, and economic principles to analyze the challenges and prevention responses needed.

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