KARACHI: With loss and damages from disasters increasing globally, Japan and the World Bank launched a new program today that will help improve disaster risk management in developing countries. Activities under this program will have a strong focus on strengthening resilience, including risk identification, risk reduction, preparedness and financial protection – connecting Japan’s knowledge with global expertise to support development planning and investment.
“Japan has long been a leader in mainstreaming disaster risk management into the global development agenda, and their own experience shows us that prevention pays,” said Zoubida Allaoua, World Bank Acting Vice President for Sustainable Development. “The new program will have a global outreach, bringing expertise from Japan and beyond to developing countries, to help improve the lives of the people, particularly the poor, who are most vulnerable to disasters.”
The launch of the new “Japan-World Bank Program for Mainstreaming Disaster Risk Management in Developing Countries” will be marked with a high-level symposium bringing together experts from across the public and private sectors of Japan, senior officials from disaster- prone countries with disaster risk management experience, and World Bank specialists.
Jiro Aichi, Japan’s Senior Vice Minister of Finance and Senior Vice Minister for Reconstruction said, “We are committed to supporting technical cooperation in disaster risk management which utilizes Japan’s knowledge and technology drawing from the public and private sectors, academia and others. We hope disaster risk management will be incorporated into World Bank projects as well as in development work overall.”
This initiative will leverage Japanese expertise to mainstream disaster risk management in development planning and investment programs. It will support technical assistance, pilot disaster risk management projects, knowledge and capacity building activities, and other initiatives focused on reducing vulnerability to natural hazards.
As part of the program, a Hub in Tokyo will maintain a network of Japanese and regional centers of excellence in disaster risk management, and work with Japan’s public and private sectors to help developing countries with the design and implementation of disaster risk management projects.
Following the Great East Earthquake and Tsunami of March 11, 2011, Japan and the World Bank strengthened their collaboration on disaster risk management, capturing policy recommendations to improve resilience in the Sendai Report.
Based on this work, Japan and the Bank emphasized the importance of increasing technical assistance and financial support to vulnerable countries, including by using Japanese know-how and expertise.The new program was born out of this commitment.
The Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR), a growing partnership of 8 international organizations and 41 countries including Japan, housed in the World Bank, has played an instrumental role in these efforts. GFDRR will be managing the new program and Hub in Tokyo.
The frequency and severity of disasters resulting from natural hazards are increasing, compounded by the effects of climate change. Over the last 30 years, loss and damages from disasters have been rising, from an annual average of around $50 billion in the 1980s to just under $200 billion each year in the last decade.
Disasters strike developed and developing countries alike, but developing countries are more vulnerable, with risks exacerbated by population growth, rapid urbanization, environmental degradation, and climate change. Damages can add up to more than 100% of GDP in small, fragile countries, straining public finances and wiping out years of development progress. The human toll is also severe, disproportionately hurting the poor who are often without the benefit of safety nets.
The good news is that not all natural hazards need to turn into disasters. Mainstreaming disaster risk management into policies, strategies, legislation and building codes can save lives and assets. Prevention is often less costly than disaster relief and response, and disaster risk can be reduced by strengthening resilience. This is one of the lessons that Japan brings, which is reflected in the concept of the new program.