Sharing Japanese Expertise in Emergency Preparedness and Response (EP&R) Systems at National and Local levels

October 13, 2017


Participants of the Emergency Preparedness and Response Technical Knowledge Exchange included country client officials from Bolivia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Nepal, and Uzbekistan. 

A recent World Bank report notes that the impact of extreme natural disasters is equivalent to a global $520 billion loss in annual consumption, and forces some 26 million people into poverty each year. A functional response reduces felt consequence and enables rapid recovery, reducing cumulative impacts to public safety and the economy. Emergency preparedness and response (EP&R) capacity must keep pace with development and demographics to ensure these gains are not lost because of disaster and emergencies. Consequently, a well capacitated EP&R system is the first line of defense for investments and country development.

Many of the World Bank’s disaster risk management programs have largely focused on longer term process and structural risk reduction efforts, e.g. risk-sensitive land use planning, coastal and riverine flood defenses, etc. As a result, while several smaller scale EP&R projects have been implemented in the last decade, only recently, through projects, such as Istanbul Seismic Risk Mitigation Project (ISMEP) and the Bangladesh Urban Resilience Project, has EP&R been considered as a major component of resilient development.  As these projects matured, internal expertise to organize and advise in this area was challenging to obtain.  This dual pressure of increased demand for this type of project and limited supply of internal expertise has led to a growing service gap for the World Bank Group (WBG) investment in emergency preparedness and response.


On August 28 – Sep 3, 2017, the World Bank Ready2Respond (R2R) Community of Practice (CoP), City Resilience Program (CRP), Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR), and the World Bank Disaster Risk Management Hub in Tokyo, in collaboration with CITYNET Yokohama, convened clients and TTLs from 5 countries together with experts from Japan and Canada for a Technical Knowledge Exchange (TKX) on Emergency Preparedness and Response in Tokyo and Yokohama. The week-long innovative learning exchange was structured around key practical themes: 

(i)   learn about disaster preparedness and response systems at national and local levels in Japan to improve crisis management systems of selected client countries;

(ii)  enhance the understanding on risk communications and public awareness activities (such as evacuation drills) on disaster preparedness and response for potential replication in the client countries; and

(iii) observe and learn from urban/community planning initiatives focusing on disaster risk reduction and preparedness in Yokohama, Japan.

" Without question Japan is the best in this area of expertise. Learning from Japan’s effective and contextualized Disaster Management System is important for all countries to see how theory is put into practice. "

Marc S. Forni

Lead Disaster Risk Management Specialist, The World Bank

The Tokyo Rinkai Disaster Prevention Park is an
Emergency Operation Center (EOC) that serves as a central base for disaster response operations in the event of a large-scale disasters (such as earthquake stronger than magnitude 6) in the Tokyo Metropolitan Area.

During a site visit to the Tokyo Rinkai Disaster Prevention Park, participants took part in an earthquake simulation tour that allowed them to experience the flow of events starting with the development of an earthquake disaster in the Tokyo Metropolitan Area and ending with evacuation.

Site visit to the Yokohama City Fire Bureau

 “Japan's disaster management system is a premier example of an effective and organized emergency preparedness system, thanks to experiences and lessons learned over the years that illustrate and confirm its relevancy at a global level. The site visits in Tokyo and Yokohama showcased the great planning, organization, and development of preparedness and response measures Japan advances in case of natural disasters. In addition, Japan's community trainings and disaster preparedness drills are certainly excellent examples of collective public awareness raising exercises for the population.

This experience made me think about the current situation in our cities, our degree of preparedness and response to disasters, and the challenges we face moving forward. I now realize how important is to work towards addressing these issues to ensure a sustainable development of our cities. It was a great experience!”Ms. Flavia Rodriguez Gantier, Ministry of Public Works, Services and Housing of Bolivia

Next Steps

As a result of the TKX, a series of knowledge products, including technical specifications and operating procedures, are being developed through the World Bank Tokyo DRM Hub and will be shared with teams and clients to support their disaster preparedness programs. These knowledge products include Solution Briefs on Emergency Drills (e.g., specification TORs, training materials/schedules), EP&R Frameworks and Institutional Arrangement Functionalities, Decision Support Tools, Emergency Operations Centers (TORs and design specifications), Disaster Preparedness Plans for Oil & Gas Utilities (e.g., SOP, training materials), and Just in Time Workshops on EP&R Capacity Building/Public Awareness. Going forward, the World Bank Tokyo DRM Hub will continue to connect World Bank clients and teams with concepts and best practices from Japan and other countries on emergency preparedness and response systems.  

“For a country like Nepal which is highly vulnerable to disasters, this training is very meaningful. Japan is world leader in disaster preparedness and risk mitigation, and it was a great learning to see the use of technologies in prevention and mitigation of disasters, and know about the systems that are put in place. I now realize where Nepal is in terms of readiness to respond, and what should be Government of Nepal’s target. It was a fantastic learning opportunity – we are very grateful to the World Bank DRM Hub for organizing such trainings.”  -  Mr. Uttar Khatri, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Finance  

TKX teams participated in and observed the Yokohama annual disaster prevention day drills, which were overseen by the Mayor of Yokohama, and demonstrated training, coordination, community engagement, and response required for large-scale disaster response –Yokohama City Annual Disaster Prevention Drill, September 3, 2017

Japan-World Bank Program for Mainstreaming Disaster Risk Management in Developing Countries