Earlier this month Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda), possibly one of the strongest storms to make landfall in human history, hit the Philippines. It caused widespread destruction throughout nine of the country’s 13 regions, affecting an estimated 10 million people, displacing 4.4 million, and resulting in more than 5000 deaths. The disaster caused major damage to housing, roads and bridges, schools, health facilities and the agriculture and fishery industries.

Natural disasters like Haiyan call for large, multi-faceted recovery and reconstruction plans. Often, many governments do not have adequate capacity and knowledge to design, plan and manage such complex programs. Unprepared institutions and ineffective policies make coordination difficult and hamper the recovery process, resulting in prolonged suffering of people due to internal displacement, lack of shelter, loss of employment, and delayed restoration of essential services, such as water and electricity. Recovery and reconstruction after a disaster is an important opportunity to promote resilience against future disasters.

The Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR)—a multi-partner initiative managed by the World Bank—is working with the European Union (EU) and United Nations Development Program (UNDP) to develop an internationally applicable and good practice-based Disaster Recovery Framework Guide (DRF). It is a product of a joint declaration by the United Nations Development Group (UNDG), the European Union (EU) and the World Bank (WB) on Post-Crisis Assessments and Recovery Planning. The declaration aims to enhance collaboration, harmonization and coordination on post‐crisis frameworks to support post-conflict and post-disaster needs assessments (PDNA)—a government-led exercise bringing stakeholders together after a disaster to present damages and losses in a single consolidated assessment report.

A recent technical workshop in Brussels, Belgium was organized to develop initial inputs for the DRF Guide and discuss key issues related to recovery and reconstruction. The event brought together international disaster recovery experts, public sector and civil society representatives, as well as World Bank, EU, and UNDP staff to consult and agree on an integrated approach to support disaster affected countries, including fragile and conflict-affected countries.

"We (the European Union, the UNDP, and the World Bank/GFDRR) aim to work together in order to be more effective in supporting countries affected by disaster,” said Genoveva Ruiz Calavera, Head of the Stability Instrument Operations unit, European Commission. "In doing so, we can mutually reinforce the competences and competitive advantages we each have as institutions. We are here to bring the added value that each of us can contribute to this field,” said Calavera.

This view was echoed by other participants. Christoph Pusch, Lead Disaster Risk Management Specialist, World Bank emphasized, “The workshop clearly demonstrated that efforts invested in building strong partnerships around this work have paid off and stakeholders are expressing strong commitment to this agenda.”

The Guide, which was central to the discussion at the event, provides an opportunity to promote recovery as a part of resilient development. It is being developed through broad-based dialogue on international good practices on disaster recovery institutions, policy, financing and management. It will remain a “living” document that can be iteratively adapted to varying country and disaster contexts.

"This workshop saw of some of the most internationally well renowned experts from around the globe bringing their ideas and inputs to the table,” said Raja Arshad, Lead Disaster Risk Management Specialist, GFDRR. “We are trying to approach this in a proactive and preemptive manner–why should we wait for a disaster to happen when we can take ex ante measures?” he added.

Indeed, the DRF Guide will bring a number of benefits to countries seeking to be better prepared for disaster recovery. It will:

  • Add value to the PDNA process by using its outputs as the basis for a comprehensive, integrated multi-sectoral approach to recovery planning and management
  • Incorporate measures for reducing vulnerability for the most marginalized and disempowered groups and pay particular attention to gender inequities and environment and climate adaptation concerns
  • Provide specific guidance on recovery in fragile and crisis affected countries
  • Build upon efforts supporting the transition from humanitarian aid to recovery interventions and long-term development

"Disaster recovery situations are complex, where political, environmental, and social systems are affected,” said Angeles Arenas, Recovery Advisor, Disaster Reduction and Recovery Team, UNDP Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery. “Disasters are the manifestation of unmanaged risks and unsolved development problems,” she added. “Policy guidance for disaster recovery is critical. That is what we are trying to bring together in the Recovery Framework,” said Arenas.

The participants of the workshop also resolved through an "outcome statement" to jointly work towards developing the DRF Guide and launching it in late 2014 at the proposed second World Reconstruction Conference. The statement highlights the importance of promoting resilient recovery for global risk reduction in various upcoming international forums leading up to the World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in 2015. This joint advocacy aims to reach national and regional platforms working towards the development of the next version of the Hyogo Framework of Action on Disaster Reduction (HFA-2). This will also help ensure that the resilient recovery is part of discussions on the post-Millennium Development Goals framework.