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Disaster Risk Management Overview

Disasters hurt the poor and vulnerable the most. Low-income countries account for more than 70 percent of the world’s disaster “hotspots.” Three decades of data tell the story: Since 1980, low-income countries have accounted for only 9 percent of the disaster events but 48 percent of the fatalities.

The economic impact can be devastating for developing countries. Analysis carried out for Natural Hazards, UnNatural Disasters, a report funded by the World Bank 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. 

The impact of disasters will continue to rise with climate change exacerbating such trends. The Bank’s Building Resilience report, which informed the UN climate conference in Warsaw in November 2013, finds that economic losses from natural disasters have risen from $50 billion each year in the 1980s to just under $200 billion each year in the last decade.

According to Munich Re data, total reported losses from disasters are estimated at $3.8 trillion in this period with 74 percent due to extreme-weather. Mainstreaming disaster risk management into 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. 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 25,2014

Over the past 10 years, the Bank has emerged as the global leader in disaster risk management (DRM); supporting client countries in assessing exposure to hazards and addressing 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 four years to nearly $4 billion in fiscal year 2013. 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 eight international organizations, is the World Bank’s institutional mechanism for DRM. A World Bank-GFDRR DRM Hub in Tokyo was established in February 2014 under a new $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 25,2014

• In fiscal year 2013, 85 percent of active World Bank Country Assistance Strategies incorporated disaster and climate risk analysis.

• Over 40 million people in 24 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 20 countries, mapping millions of buildings and urban infrastructure, opening more than 1,000 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 new pilot facility in the Pacific Islands, which just made its first pay-out to Tonga with $1.27 million for cyclone recovery. Similar initiatives are also ongoing in South Eastern Europe and South Asia.

• Technical support from the World Bank and GFDRR to India’s National Agricultural Insurance Scheme, one of the world’s largest crop insurance programs, has improved agricultural insurance coverage to farmers, reducing delays in claims payments. In total, India’s programs offer coverage of over $12 billion to 29 million farmers.

• 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 supported led to the government approved $9 billion Metro Manila Flood Management Master Plan.

• Improving weather, climate and hydrological service delivery is key for better disaster preparedness and climate adaptation. GFDRR has provided more than $13.4 million to support hydromet improvements in 17 countries, leveraging larger investments by partners. In Nepal, for example, GFDRR provided core design support for a $31 million project financed by the Climate Investment Funds to modern hydromet and early warning systems.

• In Vietnam disaster management activities are being implemented at the community level through the National DRM project. 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.

• Knowledge products inform the global DRM agenda: including Building Resilience, Cities and Flooding: A Guide To Integrated Flood Risk Management, the Housing Reconstruction Handbook, Climate Adaptation Profiles for 31 vulnerable countries, and in partnership with the Government of Japan, the Sendai Report and Learning from Megadisasters.

• Partnerships are developed and global knowledge sharedthrough high level events such as the Resilience Dialogue which takes place on the margins of the Annual and Spring Meetings, the Sendai Dialogue, the 5th Asian Ministerial Conference on DRR, the 2012 Understanding Risk Forum , the Random Hacks of Kindness, the 2013 Global Platform for DRR and the 5th Tokyo International Conference on African Development.

Last Updated: Mar 25,2014

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

Around The Bank Group

Find out what the Bank Group's branches are doing on disaster risk management.