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Blogs

The latest insights on resilience and disaster risk management
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​​When I first heard about OpenStreetMap (OSM) – the so called Wikipedia of maps, built by volunteers around the world – I was skeptical of its ability to scale, usability in decision making, and ultimate longevity among new ideas conceived in the digital age. Years later, having working on many disaster risk management initiatives across the globe, I can say that I am a passionate advocate for the power of this community.

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The “digital humanitarian” movement took off in 2010, when thousands of volunteers used social media, text messages, and satellite imagery to support search-and-rescue efforts and human relief operations in Haiti. The data they gathered was used to create unique digital crisis maps that reflected the situation on the ground in near real-time.

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How governments can ensure that low-income farmers are financially protected against natural disasters, such as droughts, was at the heart of a panel discussion at the “Global Index Insurance Conference,” which concluded earlier this week in Paris.

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World Bank Vice President and Special Envoy for Climate Change Rachel Kyte speaks from the World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction underway in Sendai, Japan, about the need for greater investment in resilience.

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Given the intensity of Cyclone Pam, a category 5 storm, and the reports of severe damage, the World Bank Group is now exploring the possibility of a rapid insurance payout to the Government of Vanuatu under the Pacific Catastrophe Risk Assessment and Financing Initiative (PCRAFI).

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For coming decades, resilience should be a priority commitment for sustainable and responsible development rather than a buzzword for the development community. There is no better place than Sendai to fully recognize the urgency as well as benefits of investing in resilience.

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Without an overall recovery strategy and the right institutions to carry it forward, a country’s post-disaster efforts are all too often ad hoc and improvised. We realized that recovery was something to plan for before disasters strike.

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There are tools and models that allow us to determine the potential impacts of a disaster before they happen, and provide decision-makers with information they can use to reduce the potential impact. Great strides have been made in the last decade in developing technological solutions to understand and analyze disaster risk.

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On the eve of the official opening of the World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai, three cyclones – including the ferocious Cyclone Pam – were casting a menacing shadow over the Asia Pacific region.