Disasters hurt the poor and vulnerable the most. From 1995 through 2014, 89 percent of storm-related fatalities were in lower-income countries, even though these countries experienced just 26 percent of storms.

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 the 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 total value of the damages and losses caused by the earthquakes in Nepal in April and May 2015, for example, was estimated at around one-third of the country’s GDP, according to the Post-Disaster Needs Assessment. 

The impact of disasters will continue to grow as climate change exacerbates such trends. According to Munich Reinsurance Company, global losses due to adverse natural events were estimated at $4.2 trillion between 1980 and 2014. During this period, such losses have increased rapidly, rising from $50 billion a year in the 1980s to nearly $200 billion a year in the last decade. Almost 75 percent of the losses are attributable to extreme weather events, and climate change threatens to push an additional 100 million people into extreme poverty by 2030.  

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 increase in disaster losses. According to the United Nations, more than two-thirds of the world’s population will live in cities by 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 into their investment decisions. 

Last Updated: Mar 31,2016

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 WBG’s DRM portfolio has increased by more than 50% in the past four years, from $3.7 billion in FY12 to $5.7 billion in FY15, and it now accounts for 12.3% of total Bank financing, up from 9.4% in FY12.

In providing support for DRM, the WBG promotes a comprehensive, multi-sector approach to managing disaster risk.

The Social, Urban, Rural and Resilience Global Practice (GSURR) houses the World Bank’s core DRM specialists and leads engagement with client countries on disaster risk and resilience. During FY15, about 55 percent of World Bank commitments for DRM were delivered by GSURR and 45 percent by other Global Practices. The Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR), a global partnership managed by the World Bank and supported by 34 countries and 9 international institutions, acts as a financing and technical body that supports DRM across the World Bank Group.

Thematic programs targeting areas such as Small Island States, disaster resilience analytics, and hydrometeorology are central to delivering the work of the DRM operational group with high technical quality. The Small Island States program is rapidly building a community of practice among internal and national experts working on DRM and climate adaptation and delivering scaled-up and more harmonized support for resilience to Small Island States.

The disaster resilience analytics program provides technical expertise in the production of disaster risk profiles and risk information for DRM and offers assistance with valuation of cities, post-disaster loss assessments, economic loss models/cost-benefit analysis, and training workshops. The hydromet program offers a mechanism for sharing lessons and experiences from World Bank operations involving hydromet modernization, weather, water and climate services, and resilience, as well as discussing cutting-edge thinking on these issues. It also aims to foster links between Bank operations and research/policy institutions and promote a culture of joint learning with partner countries. 

Last Updated: Mar 31,2016

Results include:

•  The inclusion of climate and disaster risk in Country Partnership Frameworks grew from 85 percent in FY13 to 95 percent in FY15.

•  The World Bank Group (WBG) works with the World Meteorological Organization and Met Offices around the world on hydrometeorology services, helping to build capacity on a regional basis, such as with its support for hydromet modernization initiatives in Central Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. The WBG committed $583 million per year to early warning and preparedness in FY12-15 and helped launch a new early warning system initiative in late 2015.

•  Over 100 million people in 50 countries gained improved access to risk information about their country through WBG-supported national and regional geospatial data sharing platforms since 2010. The open data initiative is a key component of the WBG’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.  

•  Introduction of innovative financing tools like: i) a deferred catastrophe drawdown option that provides countries with a pre-approved credit line that can be accessed following a natural disaster if they commit to developing an integrated disaster risk management (DRM) strategy; ii) a $200 million financing structure that aims to help Uruguay manage drought risks by offering a contingent credit line when certain conditions are met; and iii) expansion of catastrophe risk insurance pooling mechanisms for the Caribbean, Pacific, and Southeast Europe, as well as the creation of the world’s first subnational insurance pool in the Philippines.

•  WBG technical assistance, with financial support from GFDRR, is helping the Peruvian government design and implement a $10 billion school retrofitting and rebuilding program for Peru’s nearly 50,000 schools. In the aftermath of the 2015 earthquakes in Nepal, GFDRR has been supporting the government by providing technical advice to the Department of Education, informing the reconstruction and rehabilitation of affected educational facilities, and individually assessing over 5,000 public schools.

•  As part of a $200 million project, the WBG is supporting efforts to expand and improve transportation in Morocco’s larger cities. The project is designed to reduce disparities by improving access to social services and economic opportunities and foster urban development by enhancing productivity through improved urban transportation.

•  The WBG 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 the government to approve a $9 billion flood management plan for Metro Manila. 

•  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.

•  In FY12-15, the WBG deployed teams to more than 36 countries affected by natural disasters, mobilizing almost $4.5 billion for resilient recovery and reconstruction. Task teams supported assessments of disaster impacts that informed recovery efforts and helped ensure the integration of resilient measures in the recovery process.

•  In FY12-15, three times as much WBG financing supported ex ante measures – such as early warning systems or resilient infrastructure – compared to post-disaster recovery, with the former representing nearly 77 percent of all DRM commitments in FY15 ($4.2 billion).

•  As of January 2016, the WBG was providing advisory support to more than 44 countries to develop national-level risk financing strategies and was involved in strengthening regional collaboration in disaster risk financing and insurance in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Caribbean, the Pacific Islands, the southwest Indian Ocean, and East Asia

Last Updated: Mar 29,2016

The World Bank Group (WBG) works closely with more than 400 external partners on disaster risk management (DRM), including globally leading universities, the insurance sector, the risk modeling industry, civil society organizations, foundations, technical and development agencies of national governments, as well as UN and other multilateral agencies.

Among these, the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) is the most important partnership of the World Bank Group on DRM, for its networks of relations, and technical and financial support to the agenda.

GFDRR manages partnership programs with Japan and the European Union (EU) that cover DRM and natural disaster risk reduction (NDRR). In regards to the former, a WBG-GFDRR DRM Hub in Tokyo was established in February 2014 that leverages good practice from Japan and around the world to support technical assistance and knowledge management activities. As part of its partnership with the EU, GFDRR manages an NDRR program with the Africa Caribbean Pacific (ACP) and the EU, which supports DRM and climate change adaption activities in ACP countries by providing technical assistance, capacity building, and advisory and analytical work.




Last Updated: Mar 29,2016

Economics of Prevention
Urban Risk Assessments: Understanding Disaster and Climate Risk in Cities

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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