More investment needed on disaster management and resilience, WB

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Investment needs to be made in disaster risk management and community resilience, says a new report launched by the World Bank on Monday on the sidelines of the COP22 climate conference taking place in Marrakech, Morocco.

The report entitled “Unbreakable: Building the Resilience of the Poor in the Face of Natural Disasters” focuses on how to build resilience and enable poor people to deal with and recover from natural disasters and extreme weather shocks.

“Because COP22 is focused on action and implementation, there is a strong operational focus in this report that tries to set concrete recommendations of what countries can do in order to increase resilience against these kinds of shocks, in particular for poor people. It also tries to improvise some ideas on what the international community can do in order to help members of the poor communities much more resilient,” said John Roome, Senior Director for Climate Change at the World Bank.

The report underlines that disaster risk management and poverty reduction go hand in hand due to the vicious cycle between poverty and vulnerability to disasters.

“If your country is in the 20 percent of the poorest, people are twice as likely to live in a home that can be completely washed away by a natural disaster, storm or flood. That is because you are poor. We have many case studies showing that when people are affected by natural disasters they lose income, the lose consumption and they fall into poverty,”Stephane Hallegatte, Lead Economist and lead author of the report said.

The report tries to assess how many people are in poverty because of natural disasters and what it finds is that even looking on to the subsets of impact, if next year, if magically the world was able stop all disasters from happening, 26 million people would escape poverty.

“We insist that the strategy to resolve this issue needs to be built on two pillars; first we want to invest to avoid disasters, this means building dams, better drainage systems, making sure that buildings can withstand natural disasters. We also need to understand that disasters will not disappear and climate change will make it even more difficult to avoid all disasters so in parallel we have to make sure that when people are affected can with the shock and can recover from it,”Hallegatte said. The recovery measures include giving people access to insurance as well as developing safety net programs.

When it comes to reaching those that are affected due to disasters and shocks, a large portion of the loans and funding that is provided by the World Bank goes to communities and community driven activities.

“In Ethiopia for example, production safety net program, which is a safety net that can be scaled up in case of drought or disaster, it is using community to target and support the right households and it works well. The system identifies which communities are most affected and the communities do the distribution because they can better identify who needs what,” said Hallegatte.

Africa is a big part of what is discussed in the report, the region is a place where a lot of opportunities for developing sustainable and effective tools to better manage risk exist.