In 1999, the state of Odisha, India, was hit by the most powerful tropical cyclone ever recorded in the North Indian Ocean, causing nearly 10,000 fatalities and $5 billion in damages. For the next decade, the government of Odisha and partners worked to identify and mitigate cyclone risk. When the similarly intense Cyclone Phailin struck Odisha in October 2013, the region counted 99.6% fewer deaths.
Case studies like this clearly show the potential of targeted disaster risk management efforts. The motivation for change, however, is far too often a costly and devastating disaster that has resulted in substantial losses in lives and livelihoods. Actionable disaster risk information is the key to bringing about a safer world before these events impact vulnerable communities.
As part of their commitment to helping governments and other institutions better design, implement, communicate and use risk information to improve resilience, the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) and the World Bank have launched two publications to share and refine best practices for disaster risk assessments that highlight the potential risks of today and those of tomorrow.
The first is a reference guide which captures the evolution of public disaster risk assessment over the last 10 years, and features case studies of risk assessments from more than 40 countries conducted by the World Bank and more than 50 institutions worldwide. This publication highlights some of the influential efforts of technical specialists, institutions, and governments to create and communicate risk information quickly and at low cost, as well as to improve the quality and transparency of this information while better enabling local engagement.
GFDRR and the World Bank have also consolidated this collective experience into 10 actionable recommendations towards achieving higher quality, lower cost and better use of disaster risk information. These recommendations, highlighted in the Policy Note, ranging from cultivating and promoting open data practices to ensuring credibility and transparency in risk information, seek to inform the efforts of policy makers in the pursuit of more effective creation and communication of risk assessments and the disaster risk management policies they ultimately shape.
“To prepare communities to reduce the impacts from growing climate and disaster risk, we will need to prioritize disaster risk assessment to inform our collective resources, and enable risk management with unprecedented levels of innovation, cooperation, and scale,” said Francis Ghesquiere, Head of the GFDRR Secretariat and Manager of the DRM Practice Group at the World Bank. “These publications are a small but important contribution towards that effort.”
Both the Evolution of Disaster Risk Assessment reference guide and accompanying Policy Note were launched at the recent third biennial Understanding Risk Forum in London, which brought together more than 800 international experts and leaders from the public and private sectors, civil society and academia for the world’s premiere platform for collaboration and innovation in assessing disaster risk.
As rapidly increasing disaster and climate risk threaten to undo global development efforts, these timely publications will help government agencies and other institutions improve access to accurate and useful risk information, paving the way for more resilient communities.