Preventive Measures and Disaster Preparedness Will Lead to Economic Growth

9 August 2008: In an opinion piece, published in the Hindu,

Vinod Thomas, Director General of the World Bank's Independent Evaluation

Group, underscores the increased frequency of natural disasters, their effect

on development, and the need for policy makers to recognize this growing threat

on economies.

He notes that disasters have increasingly man-made causes and

that safeguarding the environment is required for long-term growth. He provides

an overview of available data on the frequency of disasters and the consequent

losses, focusing on the case of India. He argues that addressing man-made

causes of disasters is a priority, including by protecting wetlands and

forests, and notes that timely action can lead to increased resilience and

preparedness. He underlines, however, that despite the high payoffs of

prevention, current funding for these actions is insufficient. Thomas then

calls for increased capacity in prevention and preparedness in India, enhanced

links between planning and budgeting, and improved coordination between

government agencies, as well as with civil society. He concludes that

preventive measures and disaster preparedness will reduce disaster risk, which

is indispensible for sustained growth. [The

opinion piece]