When a disaster strikes, the right guide can help ensure fast, effective recovery.

This spring, when earthquakes rocked Nepal, the world’s attention was on the extent of the impact. Damage from an initial 7.6 magnitude earthquake on April 25 was compounded by a second major earthquake on May 12 of 7.3 magnitude and by over 300 aftershocks, with almost one-third of the country’s population affected.

While emergency aid was the first priority, behind the scenes, teams from the World Bank and the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) were mobilized to assist the government in the assessment and recovery planning process. Led by the Government of Nepal, the World Bank and GFDRR teams helped facilitate the Post-Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA), in partnership with the European Union (EU), United Nations, Asian Development Bank, the Government of Japan, and others.  

The final PDNA report estimated the damage at $5.15 billion, losses at $1.9 billion, and recovery needs at $6.7 billion, roughly a third of the country’s economy. Its findings are helping Nepal obtain urgent funding for recovery, including from the World Bank. For example, the PDNA found housing was one of the hardest hit sectors, leading the World Bank to provide homeowners with grant funding to rebuild about 55,000 houses in poor rural areas.

The speed and thoroughness of this assessment – completed in a record seven weeks after the earthquake – was made possible by a PDNA Guide developed in partnership by GFDRR, the World Bank Group, the EU, and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The guide provides governments with detailed assistance on evaluating damage, loss, and needs to better understand the impact of the disaster and present preliminary recovery and reconstruction strategies.

Launched at the second World Reconstruction Conference (WRC2) in Washington, D.C., the PDNA Guide is one of several achievements from the conference to influence effective and efficient recovery efforts around the world. Another is the Disaster Recovery Framework Guide, which is used in post-disaster situations to assist governments in appropriately planning, financing, and prioritizing recovery programs and ensure a resilient recovery process. One example of where the Guide has helped citizens on the ground is Malawi.

This past January, severe flooding across Malawi affected over 1.1 million people, displaced more than 330,000, and killed 104 people. A PDNA, led by the country’s Department of Disaster Management Affair (DOMA), in partnership with the EU, UNDP, and the World Bank, with assistance from GFDRR, indicated recovery and reconstruction needs of approximately $495 million.

Following the assessment, the Government of Malawi asked the World Bank to help develop a recovery framework to guide planning and implementing a broader flood recovery program for the country. It’s a plan that’s being created not just at the national level, but also at the district level to ensure a bottom-up approach reflecting local priorities, needs, and capacities.

Nepal and Malawi are just two examples of how WRC2’s impact is felt in the field of disaster recovery—helping governments better assess damages and losses, ensuring recovery is more effective and efficient, bridging recovery and humanitarian efforts, and guaranteeing women, children, and the elderly are more integrated into future disaster planning.

A newly released report highlights the discussions and findings of those who convened at WRC2 from more than 60 countries, with the goal of ensuring countries and communities at all levels of society have the tools to build back better after disaster strikes. Participants also leveraged international consensus there to help inform the recent Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, laying a pathway for resilient recovery planning to take place before a disaster takes place.

Looking forward, the aim is to ensure countries not only build back better after a disaster strikes, but are prepared ahead of time – which in the end saves lives and money. These PDNA and disaster recovery framework guides, as well as the discussions at WRC2, will continue to inform long-term resilient recovery and make strides toward this goal.