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  • Disasters hurt the poor and vulnerable the most. From 1998 through 2018, 91% of storm-related fatalities were in low- and middle-income countries, even though these countries experienced just 32% of storms.

    The World Bank’s Gender Dimensions of Disaster Risk and Resilience report reveals that women in particular face barriers to access information and resources needed to adequately prepare, respond and cope to a disaster.

    Since 1980, more than two million people and over $3 trillion have been lost to disasters caused by natural hazards, with total damages increasing by more than 600% from $23 billion a year in the 1980s to $150 billion a year in the last decade.

    The Bank’s Shock Waves report finds that almost 75% 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. The Bank’s Unbreakable report finds that natural disasters have had large and long-lasting impacts on poverty.

    Population growth and rapid urbanization are driving the increase in disaster risks. The United Nations estimates that more than two-thirds of the world’s population will live in cities by 2050. The Bank’s Aftershocks report explains that these trends could put 1.3 billion people and $158 trillion in assets at risk from river and coastal floods alone.

    According to the Bank’s Investing in Urban Resilience report, by 2030, without significant investment into making cities more resilient, natural disasters may cost cities worldwide $314 billion each year.

    On the other hand, investing in more resilient infrastructure can provide a net benefit in low- and middle-income countries of $4.2 trillion, with $4 in benefit for each $1 invested, according to the Bank’s recent Lifelines report. Such investments can improve the quality and resilience of essential services – such as transport, or water and electricity supply – and thereby contribute to more resilient and prosperous societies.

    Mainstreaming disaster risk management into development planning can reverse the current trend of rising disaster impact. Furthermore, when countries rebuild stronger, faster and more inclusively after disasters, they can reduce the impact on people’s livelihoods and well-being by as much as 31%, potentially cutting global average losses.

    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 disasters into their investment decisions.

    Last Updated: Mar 16,2021

  • Over the past decade, the World Bank has emerged as the global leader in disaster risk management (DRM), supporting client countries in assessing exposure to hazards and addressing disaster risks. The World Bank Group (WBG) provides technical and financial support for risk assessments, risk reduction, preparedness, financial protection, and resilient recovery and reconstruction.

    The World Bank’s annual disaster risk management investment has increased markedly over the past eight years – from US$3.5 billion in FY12 to US$4.5 billion in FY20. In providing support for DRM, the WBG promotes a comprehensive, multi-sectoral approach to managing disaster risk. All World Bank projects are now screened for climate and disaster risk to ensure that they build the resilience of people on the ground.

    The Urban, Disaster Risk Management, Resilience and Land Global Practice (GPURL) houses the World Bank’s core DRM specialists and leads engagement with client countries on disaster risk and resilience. The Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR), a global partnership managed by the World Bank and supported by 20 countries and 11 international institutions, acts as a financing and technical body that supports DRM across the World Bank Group.

    As reflected in its Action Plan on Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience, the World Bank Group is making adaptation and resilience a key priority, placing it on an equal footing with climate mitigation actions. Through the Action Plan, the World Bank commits to:

    1. Boost adaptation financing to reach $50 billion over FY21-25, more than double what was achieved during FY15-18,
    2. Drive a mainstreamed, whole-of-government programmatic approach, and
    3. Develop a new rating system to create incentives for, and improve the tracking of, global progress on adaptation and resilience.

    The World Bank’s approach to delivering on its strategy is organized by areas of engagement, which support priorities for action outlined in the Sendai Framework, as well as contributing to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement. These areas of engagement include:

    Science and innovation in disaster risk management

    To build resilience to natural hazards, it is essential that communities and governments have access to information about disaster risk that is understandable and actionable. GFDRR and the World Bank continue to increase access to information on disaster risk by supporting advances in science, technology, and innovation that can further the understanding of disaster risk and help achieve this goal.

    Promoting resilient infrastructure

    Basic public services are frequently disrupted in the aftermath of a disaster. When restoring and maintaining them, financing and technical advice are needed to integrate disaster risk management principles into their design. The success of a dedicated program for building safer schools has led to the establishment of programs in other critical sectors, such as transport and water. The Lifelines report showed that disasters result in about $18 billion/year in direct damages to power and transport infrastructure – and the resulting infrastructure disruptions have wide-ranging socio-economic costs for firms and households. Thus, targeted investments to build resilience in infrastructure yield $4 in benefits for every $1 invested.

    Climate change puts trillions of dollars of transport investments at risk, which is why resilience – especially road resilience – is also a key part of the World Bank’s agenda. The Bank is working with countries to build resilience into transport systems using strategies such as increasing redundancy; making system-wide efforts to address standards, methods, and materials; and improving effectiveness of preparations for – and response to – extreme climate events.

    Water systems are another area at the core of climate change adaptation strategies. Nine out of 10 disasters are water-related, and those risks cascade through food, energy, urban, and environmental systems. The World Bank is promoting investments in nature-based solutions that harness the power of green infrastructure, such as mangroves and wetlands, to play a bigger role in traditional infrastructure planning. This effort can generate services at lower total costs and boost resilience.

    Scaling up the resilience of cities

    Rapid urbanization in developing countries requires substantial and well-planned infrastructure investments to meet growing resource demands, enhance economic growth, and advance social development. It is also critical to ensure that any infrastructure built today is resilient to disasters and climate change, through access to robust and high-resolution information on risks and appropriate incentives to increase design specifications to build resilience.  Actions aimed at building resilience of the cities of today and tomorrow are underway in 52 countries around the world.

    Established in June 2017, the City Resilience Program (CRP) – a partnership between the World Bank and GFDRR – is a multi-donor initiative aimed at increasing financing for urban resilience. The CRP aims to support building resilient cities with the capacity to plan for and mitigate adverse impacts of disasters and climate change, thus enabling them to save lives, reduce losses and unlock economic and social potential. To do this, CRP supports cities to connect with the necessary technical expertise and tools to effectively plan for resilience (Planning for Resilience); to access multiple financing sources to ensure that planned investments in resilience come to fruition (Finance for Resilience); and to leverage global partnerships to support their resilience objectives (Partnerships for Resilience). Since its inception, the CRP has provided support to over 90 cities in over 50 countries where it helps provide insight into spatial patterns of development, environmental risk factors, and future growth trajectories to support resilience planning, while engaging an ecosystem of international finance institutions, donors, and financial advisors to deliver paired financing.

    Strengthening hydromet services and early warning systems

    Mounting disaster costs have increased the need for accurate, timely, and usable information on the likely impacts of weather, climate, and hydrological hazards. Hydromet engagements offer technical expertise and capacity building, both to governments supporting the design of hydromet modernization programs and through engagement in the World Bank/WMO Africa Hydromet Initiative and the Climate Risk and Early Warning Systems Initiative (CREWS).

    Deepening financial protection

    Disasters caused by natural hazards inflict an average of $165 billion in financial losses each year, far exceeding available development funds. The Global Risk Financing Facility (GRiF), co-managed by GFDRR and the Finance, Competitiveness, and Innovation Global Practice and launched in 2018, helps strengthen the financial resilience of vulnerable countries by establishing new – or scaling up existing –  risk financing instruments, including insurance and other market-based instruments.

    Building social resilience

    Through a combination of geographical context; financial, socioeconomic, cultural, and gender status; and access to services, decision making, and justice, socially marginalized groups are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of natural hazards. The Social Resilience program strengthens the resilience of these vulnerable groups by promoting community-led approaches to risk.

    Deepening engagements in resilience to climate change

    The World Bank and GFDRR help countries better understand their climate risk and assist with the design and implementation of investments to include climate-resilient measures. For example, the Canada-Caribbean Resilience Facility (CRF) works to achieve more effective and coordinated gender-informed climate-resilient preparedness, recovery, and public financial management practices in nine Caribbean countries.

    Ensuring resilient and effective response capacity to meet existing and emerging risks

    In the imminent threat or in the aftermath of disaster, first responders (fire, ambulance, police) and civil protection agencies are critical for timely, adequate, effective, and efficient response to limit further disaster impacts – such as fire after earthquake – to save lives and minimize harm, and to provide a reassuring front to citizens affected by disaster. However, many first response and civil protection buildings are themselves vulnerable to damage in disaster, with communications, power, and water systems at high risk of failure. Moreover, risks are changing in cities, with climate change bringing more intense rainfall and the need to undertake rapid water rescues, or higher buildings requiring different types of rescue equipment, or simply growing populations inadequately covered by shrinking emergency services. The World Bank and GFDRR are supporting countries to identify challenges and to design practical strategies and investment plans to ensure first responders and civil protection authorities are ready for the risks that lie ahead.

    Enabling resilient recovery

    The World Bank and GFDRR are helping countries implement post-disaster damage and needs assessments, as well as recovery and reconstruction programs, based on the principle of building back better. Emphasis is placed on the development and distribution of knowledge products to build the capacity of key stakeholders in planning for rapid recovery and preparedness for future disasters.

    Promoting resilience to climate change and enabling gender equality are both central to these areas of engagement, and these two themes are embedded into all World Bank DRM activities.

    Last Updated: Mar 16,2021

  • Results include:


    • In Ethiopia, the World Bank and GFDRR have enabled the development of a scalable methodology to conduct multi-hazard assessments which have informed the development of emergency contingency plans in two cities, Gondar and Dire Dawa.
    • In Guinea and Kenya, the World Bank and GFDRR have supported locally-led efforts to develop frameworks and methodologies for better integrating citizen and community engagement in local development plans, with a focus on the nexus between disaster risk management and fragility, conflict and violence.
    • In Cabo Verde, the World Bank and GFDRR have supported a comprehensive emergency preparedness and response (EP&R) diagnostic assessment, including the identification of targeted investment opportunities for strengthening the country’s EP&R system.


    • In Indonesia, the World Bank and GFDRR have provided technical assistance which has enabled flood hazard modeling for three focus cities in Indonesia, taking into consideration population growth and climate change effects, an effort which is expected to inform city-level resilience strategies.
    • In the Philippines, the World Bank and GFDRR have partnered with the Philippine government on the establishment of the National Asset Registry System (NARS), covering almost 400,000 public assets from five national government agencies. This will be a key tool for the Philippine government in systematically managing financial risks to public assets.
    • In Tonga, the World Bank and GFDRR have supported an in-depth, analytical study on gender inclusion of water and sanitation (WASH) in Tongan schools, with an eye for unpacking and assessing the gender gap in WASH facilities and informing a way forward for tackling the gap.


    • In Romania, the World Bank and GFDRR have supported the establishment of a dedicated platform for civil society organizations designed to deepen their engagement with other CSOs, as well as the Romanian government and international and private sector partners, on disaster risk management efforts in the country.
    • In Serbia, the World Bank and GFDRR have supported efforts to build the Serbian government’s capacity to use cutting-edge remote sensing technology for the development of flood risk maps for 75 flood prone areas across the country.


    • In El Salvador, the World Bank and GFDRR have worked with the Ministry of Local Development in developing a comprehensive framework for officials to assess the feasibility of investments in local economic development, while taking into account a range of resilience considerations, including disaster exposure and vulnerability, and social and environmental impact.
    • Across the Caribbean, the Canada-Caribbean Resilience Facility (CRF), in partnership with the World Bank and GFDRR, is working with national governments to bolster their efforts against COVID-19, including through the design and implementation of the Contingent Emergency Response Component (CERC), a Bank financing instrument that allows for rapid reallocation of funds from the Bank's investment operations toward pandemic response.
    • In Haiti, the World Bank and GFDRR have supported a community-level of assessment of behavioral barriers which interfere with people’s decision-making when they are faced with a catastrophic event, with an eye for identifying opportunities for strengthening early warning and evacuation systems.


    • The World Bank and GFDRR have partnered with communal and prefectural authorities in developing comprehensive resilience strategies for two of Morocco’s major urban centers, the Commune of Fez and Prefecture of Mohammedia. 


    • In Afghanistan, the World Bank and GFDRR have supported the development of community risk profiles, based on geospatial data analysis and focus group discussions with community members. These profiles have begun to inform community-level deliberations around the identification and prioritization of resilience measures to be undertaken by the Afghan government.
    • In Bangladesh, the World Bank and GFDRR have supported the development and sustainability of GeoDASH, Bangladesh’s first ever open source geospatial data collection and sharing platform, which is enabling planners and policymakers to visualize and analyze data to inform their resilience efforts.
    • In Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal and Pakistan, the World Bank and GFDRR have supported national efforts to respond to COVID-19, including through the design and implementation of the Bank’s COVID-19 lending and technical operations in South Asia.


    Last Updated: Mar 16,2021

  • The World Bank Group and GFDRR work with more than 400 external partners on DRM, including leading universities, the insurance sector, the risk modeling industry, civil society organizations, foundations, technical and development agencies of national governments, as well as the United Nations and other multilateral agencies.

    The Resilient City Development Program (RECIDE), a partnership of the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID) and the World Bank, aims at empowering cities, primarily in Sub-Saharan Africa and the EU Southern Neighborhood, to build greater resilience to climate and disaster risks and to attract more private sector financing solutions. RECIDE has been granted approval to access resources from the European Commission’s External Investment Program (EIP) of up to EUR 100 million in EU backed guarantees, making the financing and delivery of services in risky projects more efficient for investors. These guarantees can potentially reduce project financial risks and may in the future be combined with other types of development investment.

    GFDRR manages special programs with Japan and the EU that cover DRM and natural disaster risk reduction. The Japan-World Bank Program for Mainstreaming DRM in Developing Countries through its Tokyo DRM Hub leverages best practices from Japan and around the world to support the mainstreaming of disaster risk management into national development planning and investment programs, particularly in the infrastructure sectors, through World Bank country strategies and operations. 

    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: Apr 07,2021



VIDEO May 10,2016

Understanding Disaster Risk

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