World Bank Releases Book on Vital Data for Mitigating Natural Disasters

Data Against Natural Disasters 16 December 2008: In response to the likely increase in both the frequency and severity of disasters due to climate change, the World Bank has launched a book containing a set of guidelines to help countries preemptively collect the data vital for effective relief operations, to avoid compounding the original catastrophe. The book, entitled “Data Against Natural Disasters,” was launched jointly by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the World Bank.

The publication is based on case studies from the 2004 Indian Ocean

tsunami in Indonesia and Sri Lanka, recent hurricanes and floods in

Guatemala, Haiti and Mozambique, and the 2005 earthquake in Pakistan.

The book concludes that information management systems are a critical

element for effective response and should be based on good

technological platforms with the necessary software, and that baseline

information must be collected on communities, services and


In a forward to the book, John Holmes, UN

Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, and Danny Leipziger,

World Bank Vice President, stress the need for “effective systems to

identify needs, manage data, and help calibrate responses” in order to

avoid that natural hazards become man-made disasters.

Noting that

if systems are well designed they could be used to coordinate aid and

ensure effective and efficient delivery, Holmes and Leipziger stress

that inefficiencies in the distribution of aid “may lead to unnecessary

economic losses, increased suffering, and greater poverty.” They

conclude that disaster reduction management systems developed prior to

disaster are far more effective than those developed post-disaster.  [UN Press Release] [The resource]