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World Bank Provides Guidance on Disaster Risk Management in East Asia and the Pacific

World Bank3 June 2013: The World Bank has released a publication, titled 'Strong, Safe and Resilient: A Strategic Policy Guide for Disaster Risk Management in East Asia and the Pacific,' which notes that East Asia and the Pacific is the region most affected by disasters, experiencing both recurrent small-scale events as well as devastating large-scale catastrophes. The report calls on policy makers to invest in disaster preparedness to avoid undoing progress in poverty reduction and development.

The report discusses key trends related to disaster impacts in the East Asia and Pacific region; cross-sectoral issues of institutional arrangements for disaster risk management (DRM) and ways to promote outreach to communities; and core areas of DRM, including risk identification, risk reduction, emergency preparedness, financial protection, and sustainable recovery and reconstruction. An appendix contains a summary of the main activities of the World Bank East Asia and the Pacific Disaster Risk Management team. Through examples of good practices and innovative actions, the report provides recommendations in the short, medium and long run, while privileging aspects related to decision making.

The report indicates that, in 2011, disaster losses in the regions amounted to US$380 billion and over 1.6 billion people have been affected by disasters since 2000. Around 40% of the total number of global floods occurred in the East Asia and Pacific region over the past 30 years. The report further warns that, with rapid urbanization, vulnerability to flooding tends to increase. It also points to cost-benefit analyses that show that that every US$1 spent on mitigation saved countries US$3–US$4.1.

Among the key findings on prevention, the report highlights, inter alia, that: investing in disaster preparedness and the right balance of structural and non-structural measures can be highly cost-effective; strengthening hazard forecast and hydrometeorological services is a no-regret investment with a high cost-benefit ratio; strengthening existing school buildings in areas of risk is more cost-effective than entirely rebuilding them; restoring natural ecosystems can be more cost-effective than engineered solutions, in particular coral reefs and mangroves that are among the most valuable ecosystems and provide many benefits; using existing social protection and community-driven development interventions can substantially reduce disaster response costs; and providing access to open risk information and data enable stakeholders to make better decisions.

Overall, the study shows that DRM is a fundamental dimension in efforts to eradicate poverty, as disasters could undermine decades of work in poverty alleviation. [World Bank Press Release] [Publication: Strong, Safe and Resilient: A Strategic Policy Guide for Disaster Risk Management in East Asia and the Pacific]