BBB in infrastructure: making it stronger and accessible to everyone

Meeting and its outcomes

Moderator set the stage by introducing the principles of building back better

  • Do no harm: learn from the past and avoid unnecessary damage to future recovery
  • Agencies must be accountable to the people they seek to assist
  • People affected by disaster should be the decision-makers
  • Recovery of local economy and livelihoods must a priority
  • Reconstruction and recovery efforts must recognize diversity
  • Communities should be allowed to use their own resources wherever possible
  • Reconstruction must take account of future hazards and risks


Statements by panel members:

Armine Hayrapetyan

Armine provided overview of the institutional structures and legal frameworks (including BBB integration) for Disaster Recovery in Armenia. Shared experience in BBB application in the local level infrastructure recovery. And provided example of the role of the National DRR Platform in ensuring inclusiveness of these processes.

Sandra Nedeljkovic

A large-scale recovery programme has been implemented in Serbia after the 2014 floods. Serbia shared the specifics of the institutional arrangements for the programme implementation; how it was supported by a legal framework. How BBB has been integrated.

Kamal Kishore

Expressed India’s desire to lead a global coalition which will work towards reducing damage to critical infrastructure as called for by the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and provided example on how critical infrastructure focus in one country is connected through context to other parts of the world. Mr. Kishore presented seven steps to ensure critical infrastructure is better protected from disasters and prioritized in the BBB inclusive recovery after disasters.

Joseph Leitmann

Building Back Better: Achieving Resilience through Stronger, Faster, and More Inclusive Post-Disaster Reconstruction. The 2017 Unbreakable report made the case that disaster losses disproportionately affect poor people. In this 2018 report the authors explore how countries can strengthen their resilience to natural shocks through a better reconstruction process. The benefits of building back better could be very large – up to US$173 billion per year globally. A stronger, faster, and more inclusive recovery would lead to an average reduction in disaster-related well-being losses of 59 percent in the 17 small island states covered in the report.

Max Wyss

Presented results of their investigation on the impact of large earthquakes on the poor. Given that more than 90% of earthquake fatalities occur in rural environments, one has to rethink how to protect the population. With most rural buildings being one- and two-story dwellings, the earthquake closet (EC) offers an affordable solution as a protection unit. The cost of constructing an EC in a single-family home is taken to be $500–$600 in developing countries.

Emma Lovell

Presented findings from the “Promoting safer building and supporting self-recovery” project. The project was an interdisciplinary collaboration involving social scientists, geoscientists, structural engineers and humanitarian practitioners. The team investigated how disaster-affected households in low- and middle-income countries rebuild their homes in situations where little or no support is available from humanitarian agencies. The project focused on understanding households’ recovery experiences following Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) in the Philippines in 2013 and the Gorkha Earthquake in Nepal in 2015. The study aimed to understand the different governmental, economic, environmental and socio-cultural contexts in which self-recovery takes place, and how this affects progress, the process of reconstruction and building back safer, the drivers and barriers to self-recovery, as well as what is needed to effectively support self-recovery.

Audience Q&A

Panel members answered questions from the floor. Some of the thematic areas of the questions are provided below:

in 2018 the Munich Re NatCatSERVICE registered 850 events. Geophysical events such as earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions accounted for 5% of the total. Storms made up 42%, floods, flash floods and landslides 46%, while 7% fell into the categories of heat, cold and wildfire. The overall economic impact was US$ 160bn.

The inclusion of recovery as priority 4 of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (2015-30) is a clear recognition of the importance of recovery as an opportunity to Build Back Better through safer infrastructure, resilient livelihoods, stronger governance systems, better early warning and improved preparedness of the Governments and communities to manage disaster risks.

Hazards impact rich and poor countries differently because of differences in vulnerability, which is the probability and exposure of a population to risks. These differ dramatically between rich and poor populations. The world’s poor have fewer choices as to where they can live, fewer protections, and less backstops when shock events such as flooding, and earthquakes occur. In poor countries, the trend of rapid urbanization occurs in particularly hazardous areas.

Lessons from large scale recovery programmes shows that recovery would be implemented more successfully, and overall preparedness could be significantly strengthened if BBB principles already included as a part of the Disaster Risk Reduction systems in the country or set up soon after the disaster to lead recovery processes. However, at present the general level of preparedness and capacities for BBB application remains rather limited in most countries. Governments generally set up institutions and overall policies for recovery in response to a large disaster event and use existing institutions to respond to smaller events fully ignoring BBB principles.

Building back stronger reduces well-being losses by ensuring that reconstructed infrastructure can resist more intense events in the future.

Building back faster reduces disaster impacts by accelerating reconstruction through measures such as contingent reconstruction plans, pre-approved contracts, and financial arrangements.

Building back more inclusively ensures that post-disaster support reaches all affected population groups. This emphasizes the importance of providing reconstruction support to low-income households, which are typically more exposed, more vulnerable, and less comprehensively supported.

Typically, infrastructure recovery addresses the following six sectors:
- Transport
- Protective Infrastructure
- Socio economic structures
- Water and sanitation sector
- Energy
- Communication