In 2017, a severe and prolonged drought had hit countries in Africa and the Middle East, bringing crop shortage, livestock death, water scarcity and disease. Food shortages escalated into near-famine conditions in countries with low resilience against shocks, such as Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen. In such a context, rapid quantitative data is required to respond to urgent developmental needs of the affected populations. Therefore, we designed and implemented the Rapid Emergency Response Survey (RERS).
This blog is part of a series exploring housing reconstruction progress in Uttarakhand, India.
The disaster – the worst in the country since the 2003 tsunami—hit more than 4,200 villages, damaged 2,500 houses, and killed 4,000 people.
Damyanti Devi, the mother of a young daughter, lost her home and livelihood. Her old house in Rudraprayag was completely washed away by the landslide.
“The river was fast swelling up,” she said. “It had crossed the danger mark and reached close to our house. We just took our daughter and left with an umbrella and a lantern.”
She now owns a new house abuzz with music and her daughter’s laughs.
Like thousands of other people in Uttarakhand, Damyanti received support through the World Bank and the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) to rebuild her home.
This support channeled through the Uttarakhand Disaster Recovery Project (UDRP) also helped build better roads and mitigate future disaster risks in local communities.
A key component of the project was to rebuild 2,382 more resilient houses based on the owner-driven housing reconstruction model, which allows families to rebuild according to their specific needs.
This community-driven approach is important as .
There is indeed strong evidence that disasters impact women differently and amplify gender inequalities.
Women and men have different perceptions of their surroundings and coping abilities, roles, responsibilities, and resources before or in the aftermath of a disaster.
With that in mind, the housing reconstruction component of UDRP helped empower women like Damyanti in the aftermath of a disaster in 4 different ways:
It’s been ten years since the Wenchuan Earthquake struck China, leaving an everlasting scar on ravaged land, but also revealing the strong and unyielding will of the Chinese people.
Natural disasters made 2017 a very expensive year.
At $330 billion, last year’s global losses from disasters set a record. These economic losses were primarily a result of meteorological events, such as floods and hurricanes, which are increasing in frequency and intensity due to climate change. An increasing number of people are also exposed to tectonic risks, such as earthquakes and landslides, due to rapid urbanization.
But growing disaster losses aren’t inevitable. Policy changes, education, and good disaster risk management practices have been proven to reduce losses – and the foundation of all of them is accurate, reliable information about disaster risks.
called Understanding Risk (UR), which is supported by the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR).
This year, the community will convene at the Understanding Risk Forum 2018 May 14–18 in Mexico City. The Forum will highlight best practices, facilitate nontraditional partnerships, and showcase the latest technical knowledge in disaster risk identification.
It’s a critical time for a discussion of disaster risk information. A new GFDRR report, Aftershocks: Remodeling the Past for a Resilient Future, concludes that Aftershocks, which will be discussed at UR2018, explores what we can learn from historic disasters to anticipate similar future events and build resilience ahead of time.
The good news is that the past few years have seen a surge of new ways to get more accurate, more detailed information more quickly, more easily, and in more difficult contexts. We can now use social media to gather increasingly valuable information in the immediate aftermath of an event. Drones are increasingly capturing high-quality images, and machine learning for image recognition is already helping us produce more and better risk data all the time.
These emerging technologies, including artificial intelligence and machine learning, will be one of the major themes of this year’s UR Forum. To find out more about the UR Forum, and how you can get involved, watch the video blog and visit understandrisk.org.
And don’t forget to keep up with all the great ideas coming out of #UR2018 by following along on Twitter: @UnderstandRisk, @GFDRR, and @WBG_Cities.
It is 7:45 p.m. in Ponto-cho, the historic narrow alley at the core of the Japanese city of Kyoto. Close to the Kaburenjo Theater – where still today Geikos and Maikos (Kyoto Geishas) practice their dances and performances – the traditional adjoining buildings with restaurants and shops are full of guests. Local people, tourists, students… On this Saturday in mid-April, the warm weather brings a lot of people to the streets nearby.
At 7:46 p.m., a M 5.1 earthquake strikes. Seven seconds of swaying. It doesn’t cause major damage, but it is enough to spread panic among a group of tourists. Screams, shoving, confusion… drinks spill, candles fall, people rush.
At 7:49 p.m., the fire starts spreading through the old wooden structures, also threatening the historic theater. Access is difficult due to the narrow streets and panicking crowd.
What happens next?
It could be a fire in the Ponto-cho traditional alley. It could be an earthquake shaking the historic center of Kathmandu (Nepal), the archaeological site of Bagan (Myanmar), or the historic town of Amatrice (Italy). It could be Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines or Hurricane Irma in the Caribbean, blasting sites with rain, flooding, and gale-force winds.
Cultural heritage assets around the world are at risk. They are often vulnerable due to their age, as well as previous interventions and restorations made without disaster risk or overall site stability in mind. Heritage sites reflect legacies, traditions, and identities. With all this, they carry a large cultural and emotional value of what could be lost – certainly beyond the traditional calculus of economic losses.
In many cases, it is not possible or advisable to conduct reconstruction on cultural heritage sites post-disaster. Therefore, the essence and soul of a cultural heritage site is at risk of being lost forever, making preparedness and preservation even more critical.
In 2001, one million children--almost none of them girls-- were enrolled in 3,400 schools. In 2015, there was a nine-fold increase in enrolment with more than eight million students in 16,400 schools, of whom almost 40 percent were girls.
While it's encouraging to see progress in access to education, the quality and safety of the school facilities are not as reassuring
If an earthquake were to hit Afghanistan on a school day, 5 million students would be affected.
In the past, addressing infrastructure resilience has been a challenge since information regarding current and future disaster and climate risk has been extremely limited and fragmented.
Compounded by decades of conflict, this has undermined Afghanistan's ability to cope and effectively respond to natural disasters.
The future is uncertain. It’s hard to know exactly how our climate will change. That means there is also deep uncertainty around its impacts on flooding, the most prevalent disaster worldwide. How much will sea level rise? How extreme will rainfall be?
What we do know is that the best way to cope with uncertainty is flexibility.
While it may be difficult to predict impacts, we can – and must – take action. Growing uncertainty means preparation is even more urgent.
Sun or rain? Most of us rely on the daily weather forecast to know what to wear or whether to bring an umbrella. However, for millions of people living in flood prone areas, timely and accurate forecasts, as well as early warning, can impact more than just clothing choices –they can help minimize flooding impacts.
Floods are the most frequent and damaging among natural hazards. Between 1980 and 2016, floods led to economic damages exceeding US$1.6 trillion, and more than 225,000 people losing their lives. Compounded by rapid urbanization and climate change, these losses will likely increase, especially in fast-growing countries.
We live in an age of compounding uncertainty. advances in science and monitoring tools.
The challenge of anticipating and communicating the risk of volcanic eruptions to communities requires complex decision-making. Ecuador’s Cotopaxi Volcano and Indonesia’s Mount Agung are recent examples where the warning signs were present (small earthquakes, increasing gas emissions, and more), yet an eruption came much later than expected. Volcanic eruptions are therefore a double-edged sword that often creates a decision-making dilemma. While signs of volcanic activity can provide adequate time for preparation and evacuation, the very same signs can also create conditions of extreme uncertainty, which can be exacerbated by piecemeal communication around eruption events.
After spending several years in front of a computer every day, I began to feel removed from those people who were the real reason for my work, which aims to build a safer, healthier and more prosperous environment. But when people I knew were directly affected by the issues I was working on, my work took on more meaning and urgency.