Global Innovation Competition Launched for Disaster Recovery and Reconstruction

March 2, 2011

Implementers of the most innovative local initiatives will present their work at the first ever World Reconstruction Conference in Geneva in May

WASHINGTON, March 2, 2011 – As natural disasters continue to take a huge toll in death and destruction, three international bodies are launching a competition aimed at capturing innovative services, products and approaches to post-disaster recovery and reconstruction. The global Innovation Competition invites submissions that describe practices or tools that could be replicated in other disaster-hit areas around the world.  Five of the most innovative entrants will present their work at the World Reconstruction Conference (WRC) in Geneva May 10-13.

Sponsored by the Global Facility for Disaster Reconstruction and Recovery (GFDRR), the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR) and the World Bank, the competition will showcase innovation in post-disaster services, products and approaches implemented at the local level.  

“Local innovative responses have played a key role in determining how well communities coped with a devastating natural event. We want to learn and build on these local experiences and solutions in the wake of natural disasters,” said Zoubida Allaoua, Director of the Finance, Economics and Urban Development Department, which houses the GFDRR in the World Bank.

New, innovative approaches have emerged at the local level in recent years to address post-disaster challenges. Many of these involve a lot of ingenuity but few resources, such as grassroots balloon mapping for damage assessment, in which communities have used a single camera, helium-filled balloons and string to map their area for less than US$150. 

After the Haiti earthquake, workers made use of Ushahidi, an online crisis mapping platform that was used originally a few years earlier in Kenya, to map political violence. Anchored by a group of graduate students at Tufts University in Boston, Ushahidi teams on the ground in Haiti gathered information from news reports and other sources on the urgent needs following the quake, including rescue, food and water, medicine and equipment  among others.  The coordinates were then placed on a map and made available to rescue and relief teams. 

The deadline for entries to the WRC Innovation Competition is March 15, 2011. Submissions will be judged on their innovation, community connection, impact and feasibility for replication and scaling up.  Only already implemented initiatives will be accepted.

The Competition is one feature of the World Reconstruction Conference—the first ever large-scale global conference focused on natural disaster recovery and reconstruction. Organized by the World Bank and the United Nations, the Conference will be held from May 10-13, 2011 within the Third Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in Geneva.

In 2010, 373 natural disasters killed more than 300,000 people, affected some 208 million others and cost nearly US$110 billion. (*) Among the 2010 disasters were the Haiti and Chile earthquakes, floods in Pakistan and Australia, and landslides in Brazil. Today, New Zealand is looking at billions to rebuild from last week’s devastating earthquake. These are all startling figures of a trend that is only anticipated to intensify with future climate change.

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