Although Costa Rica has a robust legal and policy framework for disaster risk management, these policies face implementation challenges at the local level and across some government agencies. Coordination between municipalities and national-level institutions overseeing major investments in public infrastructure is sometimes lacking. The country also grapples with limited logistical resources to coordinate extensive relief efforts to various regions, with poor road conditions further complicating disaster responses. The dearth of emergency shelters across the country contributes to greater vulnerability to disasters. 

On top of these challenges, Costa Rica also faces a gradual decline in its fiscal capacity to independently finance post-disaster expenditures. This fiscal strain means that it does not always have adequate resources, whether through transfers or feasible financing, to cover losses and restore affected capital and assets. 

All these problems underscore the pressing need to decentralize emergency responses and strengthen regional services currently managed by the National Commission for Risk Prevention and Emergency Response (CNE), which is the country’s leading institution for disaster risk management. A central government priority—as outlined in Costa Rica’s National Land-Use Management Policy 2012-2040 and its National Development and Public Investment Plan 2018—is to enhance the quality of life and opportunities in underdeveloped regions, fostering more inclusive and sustainable growth. This undertaking entails determining policy and investment priorities for underserved regions while maximizing infrastructure investments for urban revitalization, social inclusivity, and economic efficiency. 

To address Costa Rica’s multiple challenges, GFDRR supported a study focused on identifying and assessing critical areas and processes that obstructed the progress of public investment projects within the Ministry of National Planning and Economic Policy (MIDEPLAN). The study unveiled essential technical and normative priorities, shedding light on areas that require immediate attention. It also furnished a structured roadmap for enhancing the integration of disaster risk and climate change considerations into the construction and upkeep of bridges and public buildings. These recommendations are poised to play a pivotal role in guiding Costa Rica as it embarks on the implementation of new guidelines for public infrastructure planning. 

To help fortify Costa Rica against future hazards, GFDRR also supported the development of studies for a range of strategic investments. The investments explored in these studies encompass vital components of emergency response, such as warehouses, storage facilities for emergency response supplies, multipurpose shelters, reinforced early warning systems at regional levels, the establishment of an emergency operation center, and the creation of decentralized operation centers and situation rooms to support the often-overburdened CNE. These studies directly informed the World Bank’s Costa Rica Climate Resilient Recovery and Territorial Development Project, which will be financing the proposed investments. 

The comprehensive analysis and recommendations stemming from these outputs have informed MIDEPLAN’s ongoing efforts to improve its National Public Investment System. This knowledge, derived with GFDRR’s assistance, serves as a valuable resource for promoting a more resilient and climate-responsive approach to disaster risk management across Costa Rica.

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View more results stories from fiscal year 2023 in GFDRR's Annual Report 2023.