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Natural Disaster and Community-Based Disaster Risk Management

Natural Disasters - Image - Family home in the countryside surrounded by flooding

Disasters are increasingly recognized as a threat to sustainable development, poverty reduction, and achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. Poor households are particularly vulnerable to negative shocks arising from disaster events for a number of reasons: the poor own fewer productive assets; are more likely to reside in hazardous locations and in substandard housing; and are primarily dependent on their own labor to meet their livelihood needs. Such risk profiles give them fewer options to cope with and recover from the loss of assets, or the death or disability of household members in the event of a disaster.

When a disaster occurs, communities are typically the first line of defense for poor households. Social Funds have been at the forefront of helping build community resilience to shocks through a wide range of social protection interventions. These include provision of productive infrastructure (e.g., small-scale irrigation, feeder roads), livelihood support, and provision of microfinance services, for risk reduction and mitigation. Social Funds have enabled risk coping for poor households through innovative community-managed safety net programs (e.g., cash for work programs, conditional cash transfers). Social Funds’ key contribution to social risk management, however, is in the form of their investments in local institution-building over the long term, investments that spring into action when disasters strike and communities need to target assistance, rebuild damaged infrastructure, and link to other forms of government support, in a transparent and efficient manner.

The design characteristics and the institutional set-up of Social Funds, including organizational presence at both local and national levels, offer significant advantages for responding to both rapid and slow-onset disasters. A landmark evaluation of the Bank’s experience in disaster management entitled Hazards of Nature, Risks to Development (2006), found that Social Funds have been among the most flexible and innovative instruments available for both responding to natural disasters and reducing disaster risk through the use of community-based approaches.

Related Reading

Natural Disaster & Crises Response by the Tanzania Social Action Fund (92kb pdf) World Bank, 2010

This case study from the "Building Resilient Communities: Risk Management & Response to Natural Disasters through Social Funds and Community-Driven Development Operations" Toolkit highlights the response to the global financial, food and fuel crises and natural disaster (drought and floods) in Tanzania using social protection instruments. It presents the case of the Accelerated Food Security Program, financed by the Global Food Crisis Response Program (GFRP), which served to scale up a safety nets intervention implemented by the Tanzania Social Action Fund.

"Building Resilient Communities: Risk Management and Response to Natural Disasters through Social Funds and Community-Driven Development Operations", World Bank, 2009

This Toolkit is designed to help Task Teams on World Bank social funds and community-driven development (CDD) operations to identify disaster risk management issues in their programs and projects and to design and implement appropriate responses.

VCA Toolbox and Tools Reference Sheets
IFRC, 2007

How to do a VCA.
IFRC, 2007

Complementing Natural Disaster Management: The Role of Social Protection
Social Protection Discussion Paper No. 0543, 2006
By Renos Vakis

What is VCA? An introduction to vulnerability and capacity assessment
IFRC, 2006

Vulnerability and capacity assessment: Lessons learned and recommendations
IFRC, 2006

Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015:  Building the resilience of nations and communities to disasters
International Strategy for Disaster Reduction

Related Events

The first Bank cross-regional workshop with a focus on this topic, Building Resilient Communities: Risk Management and Responses to Natural Disasters, was held in June 2008, in Bangkok, Thailand. The workshop brought together over 60 practitioners working on community-based disaster management, strengthening ties among disaster experts and task teams across the Bank. The workshop agenda and a video recording of the workshop discussions are available online.

Related Websites

Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery
GFDRR is a partnership of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR) system whose Secretariat is in the World Bank

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