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UN and World Bank Leaders: Resilience Is Vital to Africa’s Promising Development Future

June 3, 2013


Ahead of TICAD, World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon visited the Great Lakes Region of Africa and met with Uganda President Yoweri Museveni and other leaders.

Dominic Chavez/World Bank

  • Disaster and climate resilience are inextricably linked to development.
  • Resilience is a particular concern for Africa, an engine of growth for the future with regions that are highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.
  • At the Tokyo International Conference on African Development, African leaders met with the heads of the UN and World Bank to discuss international support for Africa's promising development future and integrating disaster risk management and resilience into development.

As Africa grapples with persistent drought affecting millions in the Sahel and flooding that endangers lives and livelihoods in Mozambique, the role of disaster resilience in the continent’s promising development future is increasingly clear.

Those risks and securing Africa’s development future brought UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim together with African leaders and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe this past weekend to mobilize support behind Africa’s development and to mobilize an international consensus to integrate disaster and climate risk considerations in development policy and programs.

“Africa is the engine of growth of the future,” Kim said at the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD V) in Yokohama, Japan. “But with its population growth, rapid urbanization, and environmental pressures it is also extremely vulnerable to the impacts of disasters and climate change."

“Future-proofing African development by building resilience will determine how successful we are at ending extreme poverty and creating shared prosperity,” Kim said.

Developing countries have suffered an estimated $1.2 trillion in disaster damage and loss over the past 30 years. That is about three times the gross domestic product (GDP) of South Africa, and the numbers do not include the cumulative impact of the smaller events that affect communities on a recurring basis.

These recurring events, such as flooding and heat waves, may not make international headlines the way the worst drought in 60 years in the Sahel has, but when they hit over and over again, they push vulnerable people deeper into poverty – with impacts that roll back years of development gains.

The good news is that the donor community and governments are shifting gears toward more prevention and resilience. Instead of simply reacting to disasters, resilience is being integrated into all aspects of development. 

The consequences of global temperatures rising, coupled with dramatic increases in the number of people exposed to disasters and climate extremes, is tipping the balance toward resilience.  If development programs don’t proactively factor in risk up front, African countries and their development donors may not be to weather the rising costs of disasters.

" Future-proofing African development by building resilience will determine how successful we are at ending extreme poverty and creating shared prosperity. "

Jim Kim

President, World Bank Group

The World Bank’s Role

The World Bank has committed to step up its efforts to integrate disaster and climate risk considerations in every aspect of its work.

"We are committed to helping Africa reduce its vulnerability and strengthen resilience by investing in sustainable water resources management, climate smart agriculture, efficient early warning systems, and by harnessing the potential of regional integration in markets," said Makhtar Diop, World Bank Vice President for Africa Region.

Over two-thirds of the World Bank’s Country Partnership Strategies now include disaster risk considerations. Between 2006 and 2011, the Bank financed 113 disaster prevention and preparedness operations (US$7.9 billion) and 68 disaster reconstruction operations (US$3.8 billion), amounting to over 5.3% of its overall portfolio.

Achieving climate resilient development is also a special theme for the 16th replenishment of the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s fund for the poorest countries. About 32% ($4.7 billion) of total IDA commitments in fiscal year 2012 supported climate adaptation ($2.3 billion) and mitigation ($2.4 billion).

A Partnership for Resilience

In 2006, the World Bank and a number of international donors established the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery. Eight years later, it’s a partnership of almost 50 countries supporting disaster-prone countries, building disaster and climate resilience and implementing the recommendations of the Hyogo Framework for Action, a 10-year plan endorsed by the UN General Assembly to make the world safer from natural hazards.

Looking ahead to 2015, there is a unique opportunity to make significant progress by seeking synergies between the disaster, climate change and development agendas. The Hyogo Framework is up for renewal, and a new development framework to follow the Millennium Development Goals is expected.

 “What we don’t often realize is that disasters can have long-term impacts that impede development,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. “We must look at challenges posed by disasters through a development lens as we accelerate efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and discuss post-2015 priorities.”

At the end of the day, disaster and climate resilience are inextricably linked to development: Resilience is about development and development is about resilience – one cannot exist without the other. 

During the conference, Japan's prime minister also announced a US$32 billion public-private Japanese support package to assist Africa's growth and resilience.

“As Japan painfully experienced in 2011, disasters are perhaps the most urgent threat to human security and development. Climate change is only going to make things worse, ” Abe said. “ Japan is committed to supporting African countries and communities as they strive to build resilience.”