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Natural Disaster Risk Management Online Course

February 16 – March 27, 2009

Course Overview
Application - Contact

Download the Course Announcement in French here (.pdf file, 150 kb)

Course Overview

This course addresses basic questions such as “why are disasters a development issue?” and “what are the components of comprehensive disaster risk management?” The course reviews the institutional arrangements and financing mechanisms of disaster management systems, and identifies the role of national and local actors in the processes related to risk assessment, mitigation and financing. This course targets general development practitioners to raise their awareness and sensitivity in prevention of natural disasters, and consists of three modules and End of Course Exercise.

Course Expectations
Participants are expected to commit 8–10 hours per week (per module) in order to gain the most out of this course in addition to:
- Complete the required reading assignments
- Participate in all online activities. Participation involves posting a minimum of two messages per week that are substantive in nature. The message can be either a new topic or a reply to someone else's message. Participants are encouraged to post more often than twice a week in order to be involved more deeply into topics.
- Participate in videoconferencing and asynchronous chat sessions (if applicable)
- Complete assignments and end of course project
- Complete course evaluation at the end of the course

Course Format
The course consists self-paced modules, discussion forums, exercises, readings, case studies, tests and learning via interaction with program faculty and peers. Moreover, for each module there are 2 to 3 audio sessions of expert lectures for 40–45 minutes each.

The language of the course is French.

System Requirements of the Course
- Hardware: Pentium 166 or faster, 64Mb Memory, CD-ROM, Sound Card
- Software: Windows 95,98,ME,NT 4,2000 or XP Internet Explorer 4 or higher, Netscape 4 or higher Microsoft Office 2000 (Word, PowerPoint) Acrobat Reader 5  



The increased demand for both disaster assistance and mitigation capacity building calls for a structured, comprehensive and global risk management framework, one that can be used by regional and national authorities and by partner institutions. The World Bank Institute Natural Disaster Risk Management Program was developed to address the above needs. The WB Hazard Management Unit and ProVention Consortium supported the program development. The program comprises a series of five web-based courses, which aim at (i) awareness raising and (ii) advancing the participants’ analytical skills and professional knowledge in the specific area of disaster risk management. This course is the first in the series.   



• Module 1: Introduction to Natural Disaster Risk Management
It is increasingly recognized worldwide that the devastating effects of natural disasters can be linked to shortcomings of development policies. Disasters are a development problem. First, because certain natural phenomena tend to have greater effects in developing countries than in developed ones. Second, because several structural factors associated with a low level of development exacerbate disasters’ effects. Third, because the negative impact of natural phenomena on the prospects for long-term development is considerably greater in less developed countries. Thus, confronting disaster issues in a systematic and coherent fashion must be an explicit objective of development strategies. This introductory module reviews worldwide trends in disaster occurrence, regional distribution, and links to global trends such as persistent poverty, environmental degradation and growing urban density.

• Module 2: National Disaster Risk Management Systems
Poorly planned development turns recurring natural phenomena into human and economic disaster. Allowing dense population on a floodplain or permitting poor or non-enforced building codes in earthquake zones increases not only the vulnerability of the exposed population, but also makes increased losses due to natural hazards more likely. In recent years, the traditional approach to disaster management – which focused almost exclusively on actions taken immediately before, during and shortly after a disaster in order to avoid loss of life and reduce economic damage – has evolved toward a broader concept of disaster risk management. Instead of diverting financing through budget reallocation from ongoing projects in order to finance recovery and reconstruction efforts, pro-active mechanisms are sought to reduce the economic costs and impacts of disasters, improve countries’ response capacity, decrease vulnerability and improve communities’ resilience to disasters. This module reviews: different approaches countries take to creating national disaster management systems; diverse methods of transferring disaster risks; options available to governments in financing disaster recovery through risk-sharing tools; costs and benefits of policy options; methods of determining the financing needs for recovery, using damage and reconstruction needs assessment.

• Module 3: The Role of Local Actors
Democratization and decentralization are global trends that are causing policymakers to rethink the institutional setup of governments, and the roles and responsibilities of different levels of government in achieving developmental objectives. Disaster risk management is not exempt from these global trends, and actors such as local governments, municipal authorities and local communities play an increasingly important role in emerging national disaster risk management systems. This role deserves not only recognition, but it should be viewed as an integral part of the national systems. This means that the central government must provide appropriate resources to localities, coordinate national efforts and create an enabling environment for local initiatives. This module examines the evolving role of local actors in the context of city management and community-based disaster mitigation.


• End of Course Project
To meet the course completion requirement the participants are required to submit an end-of course case study/project. The objective of the course project is to enable the participants to apply the newly acquired knowledge to specific conditions in their country. In the course project the participants should provide a critical assessment of their country’s current national disaster risk management system. The evaluation should be presented in the context of a recent natural disaster event. The case study should draw upon information from the course materials, data specific to the country and the selected disaster event.

The course consists of presentations, case studies, readings and an end of course exercise. During the course, instructors and facilitators from National Institute of Disaster Management and the World Bank Institute will guide the participants and evaluate the project work.  end_arrow



World Bank Africa Region and World Bank Institute 



The Framework Course is targeted to a wide variety of professionals.
• Local chief executives, city, municipal and provincial government officers, members of local and regional legislative and development councils, administrators, disaster managers, emergency planners, and staff members of the planning, engineering, and disaster management offices.
• National government officers involved in housing, site planning, infrastructure, utilities, public works, hazards mitigation, disaster management, land management, urban planning and development, land use planning and staff members of such development, planning, and disaster management agencies.
• Elected officials of cities, municipalities, and provinces.
• Civil Defense deputized coordinators.
• Community leaders, NGO staff members, and development workers.
• Professionals from the construction and real estate industries such as subdivision planners and developers, site planners, construction managers, builders, private contractors, architects, civil and structural engineers.
Note: Participants to the course should have at least 1 year of experience on the job or in the field of discipline



Application - Contact

The deadline for application is December 31, 2008. Only acceptances will be communicated by January 15, 2009.

For further information please contact:
Climate Change and Environment Program, World Bank Institute
The World Bank Group, 1818 H Street, NW   MSN J 4-022
Washington, DC 20433. USA
Tel.: (1) 202-458-4241

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