Disaster Risk Management Overview

October 16, 2014


Martin Delingon's bathes near his house that was among those crushed by this ship that was swept ashore by typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda).

Photo: Dominic Chavez/World Bank


East Asia Pacific is the most disaster-stricken region in the world. According to a regional disaster risk management study from 2013, between 2000 and 2011, more than 1.6 billion people have been affected by disasters in East Asia and the Pacific, and the region sustained some $299 billion in losses, or over 61% of world’s total losses ($490 billion) which is more than any other region. Between 1980 and 2010, East Asia and the Pacific accounted for about 40% of the total number of floods worldwide. From 2000 to 2011, floods and storms in the region caused an estimated $23 billion in losses.

The region is exposed to large fiscal risks due to disasters. Cambodia, Lao PDR, and the Philippines could face costs totaling 18% or more of total public expenditure in the event of a 200-year disaster. The impact of a catastrophic event would overwhelm the fiscal capacity of many small states in the region.

The pervasive impact of disasters on societies is felt both directly through the loss of lives, livelihoods and assets, as well as indirectly through wider effects on the economy and society or diversion of funds from development to relief and reconstruction. While disaster impact whole societies, when they strike, the poor, particularly women, children, the elderly, and people with disabilities are disproportionally affected.

A growing challenge for the region is the accumulation of people and assets in hazardous places. Coastal cities in particular are turning into disaster hotspots. Today many urban disasters in the region demonstrate the nature of poorly managed rapid development. The urban poor are particularly vulnerable to disasters and climate change, as they often live in high risk areas, lack legal status, assets, as well as access financial resources and basic services, all of which amplify the disaster impacts on their livelihoods.


Disaster risk management lies at the heart of poverty reduction and development efforts, supporting good governance and sustainable resource management. The East Asia and the Pacific Disaster Risk Management team contributes to poverty reduction and shared prosperity by serving the most vulnerable population linking provision of basic services with resilient and safe development, empowering them through community-driven and participatory approaches, and disaster risk-awareness, as well as supporting risk-informed planning and investments to reduce disaster impacts on societies, manage residual risk and uncertainties, and strengthen the capacity of people and institutions to prepare for and respond to disasters.

The overall objective is to reduce disaster risk by lowering hazard exposure and vulnerability, strengthen community resilience and institutional capacity, and mainstream disaster risk management into planning and development. Priority areas of the East Asia and the Pacific Disaster Risk Management team include: 1) risk identification, 2) risk reduction, 3) emergency preparedness, 4) financial resilience, and 5) sustainable recovery and reconstruction. The regional strategy is guided by recent studies including: Strong, Safe, and Resilient: A Strategic Policy Guide for Disaster Risk Management in East Asia and the Pacific (2013); Building Urban Resilience: Principles, Tools and Practice (2013); Cities and Flooding: A Guide to Integrated Urban Flood Risk Management for the 21st Century (2012); and Safer Homes, Stronger Communities: A Handbook for Reconstruction after Natural Disasters (2010).


Taking into account the needs and objectives of clients in this diverse region, the East Asia and the Pacific Disaster Risk Management program supports activities through lending, technical assistance, institutional strengthening and capacity building, and provision of knowledge in the form of best practice, on-demand analytics and just-in-time assistance. The program has strong linkages with the World Bank Group’s lending portfolio across different sectors, Global Practices, and cross-cutting areas.

Risk identification: Using innovative approaches to risk assessment and communication

  • The Indonesian Scenario Assessment for Emergency (InaSAFE) is an award-winning tool for emergency planning and decision-making. Running on a freely accessible open-source platform, InaSAFE allows users to combine, analyze and share risk information. To address the issue of costly baseline data, data for neighborhood boundaries, critical infrastructure and social vulnerability can be collected through cost-effective participatory mapping enabled by OpenStreetMap, and used through InaSAFE, which was the case for the 2011/2012 emergency contingency planning exercise for Jakarta. InaSAFE is currently being expanded to the Philippines.
  • The Pacific Catastrophe Risk Assessment and Financing Initiative (PCRAFI) developed the largest collection of geospatial information on disaster risks available to the Pacific Island Countries has been created. PCRAFI conducted detailed risk assessments for 15 countries quantifying potential disaster losses from earthquakes, tsunamis, and tropical cyclones. The probabilistic and quantitative risk models and maps are being used for a range of applications including the Pacific Risk Insurance Pilot, post-disaster needs assessments, as well as disaster and climate resilient planning and investments. The information on assets, population, hazards, and risks for the islands is shared with policy-makers and the public through the Pacific Risk Information System, an open-source platform.

Risk reduction: Supporting risk-informed investments and planning

Emergency preparedness: Managing residual risk

  • The World Bank supports national hydromet and warning systems in the Mekong region, including Vietnam, Lao PDR, and Myanmar to strengthen physical systems, legal arrangements, promote regional collaboration and forecasting in accordance to international standards, last mile communication, connectivity, use of new technologies and data systems.
  • Supporting national and local authorities in their work at the community-level, disaster and climate resilience is being mainstreamed in national community-driven development programs (CDD) and community-based disaster risk management programs (CBDRM) for example in Vietnam, Indonesia, the Philippines, Myanmar and in the Pacific. CDD approaches for smaller-scale disaster preparedness investments have proven to be consistently cost-effective. For example in the Philippines, cost savings ranged from 8% for school buildings to 76% for water supply investments, when compared with traditionally implemented infrastructure.

Disaster Risk Financing and Insurance: Strengthening financial protection 

  • The Philippines is the first country in the East Asia and the Pacific region to avail a Development Policy Loan with a Catastrophe Deferred Drawdown Option (Cat DDO) in the amount of $500 million to provide immediate access to liquidity in case of an emergency. The Philippines drew down the full amount of its Cat DDO following the tropical storm Washi (2011) to finance recovery and reconstruction costs. The Bank supports an ongoing dialogue on DRFI to further strengthen the country’s financial resilience.
  • The Pacific Risk Insurance Pilot is a regional mechanism that allows the Marshall Islands, the Cook Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu to secure $45 million of earthquake, tsunami and tropical cyclone catastrophe coverage on the international reinsurance market at an attractive price. The Bank acts as intermediary between the participating nations and the international reinsurers. Tonga became the first country to benefit from the insurance payout of $1.27 million, providing immediate liquidity in the aftermath of Category 5 Cyclone Ian that hit the country in December 2013.

Sustainable recovery and reconstruction: Building safer and stronger communities

  • The region has rich experience with supporting countries in disaster recovery and reconstruction, providing just-in-time technical expertise for damage and loss assessments, planning and investments, and strengthening financial resilience, as well as funding in the form of grants (including multi-donor trust funds) and emergency recovery programs (Tonga, Samoa, Lao PDR, Indonesia, China, etc.) to guide resilient recovery which meets urgent demands as well as long-term development needs.
  • Most recently, in response to the large-scale disaster in the Philippines after Haiyan (Yolanda), the World Bank provided a $500 million loan for immediate budget support, and has been supporting the government in the recovery planning process with technical guidance and global best practice for key areas, such as infrastructure and housing. The Bank supported a rapid assessment with the help of GIS and engineering experts, and continuous to assist the country through the ongoing disaster risk management program, including disaster risk financing and insurance efforts.

Evidence-based approach: Knowledge sharing and capacity-building


The EAP DRM team collaborates with a range of international and regional partners, including the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR), the United Nations International Strategy on Disaster Reduction (UNISDR), the European Union (EU); Australia, Japan through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Japan Policy on Human Resources Development Fund (PHRD), Republic of Korea, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Pacific Islands Applied GeoScience Commission, Applied Geoscience and Technology Division of Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC/SOPAC), the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), and many others.

Last Updated: Oct 16, 2014