Infrastructure systems are the critical lifeline of social and economic activity, connecting communities, industries and markets and providing the essential services that underlie daily life. Estimates show that infrastructure investment needs in developing countries could range from 2 percent to 8 percent of GDP per year by 2030. These investments will be crucial to meet the global demand for reliable electricity, transportation, telecommunication, and water services. 

Yet millions of people are facing the consequences of unreliable electricity grids, inadequate water and sanitation systems, and overstrained transport networks. Natural hazards magnify the challenges faced by these fragile systems.  In low- and middle-income countries, direct damage to power generation and transport infrastructure caused by disaster events amounts to $18 billion per year, with additional household and firm costs amounting to $390 billion annually due to infrastructure damage and service disruptions. Improving the quality and resilience of essential infrastructure services is key to contribute to more resilient and prosperous societies. 

GFDRR’s Global Program on Resilient Infrastructure (GPRI) is mainstreaming disaster risk management (DRM) across multiple infrastructure sectors, promoting resilient infrastructure through targeted knowledge, tools and operational support. To improve infrastructure resilience in developing countries, GFDRR is working across World Bank Global Practices (GP) to open access to DRM technical and financial resources for investments in energy, transport, water, and the built environment. The program will aim at providing task teams and clients with access to cutting edge methods and best practices by promoting a knowledge sharing and networking environment in addition to direct support from the GPRI to specific projects. 

The program promotes resilience in infrastructure investments by bringing together sectoral specialists and DRM experts. Through this Global Program, GFDRR supports national and local governments, infrastructure owners and operators to mitigate disaster risk throughout the lifecycle of infrastructure assets. This is done by improving operations management practices, mitigating exposure of planned infrastructure, prioritizing disaster risk management investments based on risk mapping, increasing access to disaster resilient design standards, strengthening asset maintenance, and developing policy and institutional frameworks for infrastructure emergency preparedness and business continuity. │

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Highlights from Resilient Infrastructure


A video primer on GFDRR's Nature-Based Solutions Program.

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A video primer on GFDRR's Resilient Infrastructure Program.

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This handbook outlines an approach to proactively manage the risks of geohazards on roads.

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Pillars of our Resilient Infrastructure Work

Built Environment

Disasters, including those made more frequent by climate change, present widespread and increasing risk to the built environment, including houses, school infrastructure and its users. Across the built environment, GFDRR is mainstreaming efforts to strengthen the resilience of urban systems by supporting the identification of disaster risks, enhancing structural resilience, and improving regulation and governance processes to manage risk, such as building regulations. Initiatives such as the global programs for Safer Schools, Building Regulation for Resilience (BRR), and Resilient Housing have become platforms for strengthening infrastructure and urban resilience across all regions, from supporting the challenges faced by Small Island Development States to rapidly urbanizing low and middle-income countries. 

Key areas of our work under the Built Environment Program include:

Safer Schools

Each year, natural disasters and climate change around the world have a devastating effect on children’s education. They cause direct harm to children, teachers, and the school community, damaging or destroying school infrastructure. The Global Program for Safer Schools (GPSS) promotes and facilitates informed, large-scale investments for the safety and resilience of new and existing school infrastructure at risk from natural hazards, contributing to high-quality learning environments. The focus is primarily on public school infrastructure in developing countries. 

Building Regulation for Resilience

The BRR Program provides technical assistance to support Government’s in developing countries to strengthen their building regulatory capacity and in turn promote a safer and more resilient built environment. One core stream of the program’s activities includes supporting Government’s to develop and reform policies related to building regulation, including establishing or improving national legislative frameworks responsible for mandating the construction of safe buildings and enabling the construction process to proceed efficiently, supporting the introduction of locally implementable building codes, including the adaptation of national model codes, and focusing on the practical administration of the local building department.

Resilient Housing

In 2018, the World Bank Global Resilient Housing Program was launched with support from GFDRR. Technical assistance activities are helping to leverage technology to identify risks and enable the identification of investment needs to increase the resilience of the existing housing stock against both natural disasters and climate change. Activities specifically focus on identifying resilience measures through (i) Preventive resettlement and urban renewal; ii) Regularization and property tax collection to finance investments in resilient infrastructure, and; (iii) Housing investments in new development, expansions and retrofitting.


Resilient Energy

Resilience of power systems has emerged as a significant issue as cyclones, snowstorms, floods, heatwaves, severe droughts, and forest fires in many countries disrupt services at an alarming frequency. These extreme events may affect all parts of the supply chain from power plants that may be stranded for weeks due to floods, down to distribution poles that may be uprooted by a storm. The Resilient Energy Program aims at operationalizing resilience in all three electricity sub-sectors by developing analytical approaches for assessing and integrating resilience measures in partnership with the Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP). The program supports integration of DRM into energy infrastructure planning, design, and operational practices, while also consolidating the analytical approaches, necessary data and capacity building efforts needed by the utilities and regulatory agencies.

Key areas of our work under the Resilient Energy Program include:

  • Distribution network: developing an analytical method to assess the risk faced by the distribution system/areas of network to cyclones and floods as well as developing suitable resilience measure to protect the network and prioritization criteria (e.g. investment costs and impacts) for high-cost measures.
  • Transmission system: developing an analytical method to assess the risks faced by transmission lines and identifying suitable design and operations options (e.g. storage, smart grid options) to mitigate this risk.
  • Generation siting:  expanding the methodology on climate-resilient generation planning to address other climate risks (cyclones, storms, droughts etc.) and different generation systems (size and type).

In Nepal, technical assistance is supporting the establishment of resilient technical designs and standards for renewable energy mini-grids, generation facilities (micro/mini-hydro, solar, and wind) and relevant electrical facilities. These standards underpinned by the development of operation manuals for emergency preparedness and recovery will ensure approximately 20,000 rural resident and commercial beneficiaries have access to reliable and renewable energy services during and after a disaster.

Resilient Water

By 2030, half of the world population will be living in water stressed areas. Global driving forces, including climate change, water scarcity, population growth, and urbanization, are expected to affect the delivery of water services. The Resilient Water Partnership Program works to enhance the resilience of water and sanitation services (WSS), irrigation systems, and dams and related infrastructure to natural disasters (e.g., droughts, earthquakes, floods, cyclones, landslides) including climate risks in developing countries.

Key areas of our work under the Water Security Program include:

  • Urban WSS Resilience: promoting the resilience of new and existing critical infrastructure, including WSS, transportation and telecommunications infrastructure, educational facilities, hospitals and other health facilities, to ensure that they remain safe, effective and operational during and after disasters in order to provide live-saving and essential services
  • Resilient and Safety Hydraulic Infrastructure Program (Dams): improving the safety of communities downstream of critical hydraulic infrastructure to natural disasters, human induced failures and the challenges of an increasingly complex and variable environment
  • Managing Climate Risks and Water Extremes: helping clients plan, design, and operate new (or repurposed) infrastructure to meet multiple objectives, including mitigating flood and drought risks

In Bangladesh, technical assistance developed resilient on-site sanitation system to address the pollution of the surrounding surface water in Dhaka slums and assisted the utility, Dhaka Water and Sewerage Authority (DWASA), to build capacity, and develop tools and technologies to improve on-site sanitation service delivery across the entire sanitation service chain. In India, technical assistance supported the development of a dam Risk Assessment and Classification Framework (RACF), enabling the Government to develop risk profiles of all 5,334 large dams based on structural, social and environmental, economic, geological and institutional capacity considerations. In Tanzania, technical assistance is supporting national and municipal authorities to design aquifer recharge and management infrastructure, develop drought mitigation plans for high risk infrastructure, and conduct resilient and inclusive agricultural water access and infrastructure assessments.

Resilient Transport

Natural hazards can cause significant damage to many infrastructure systems, of which transport systems are common targets. Furthermore, as climate and disaster risks increase, critical challenges are likely to have impacts across transportation networks, including disruptions to coastal road connectivity; impacts on the operations and logistics networks of low-lying transport infrastructure (ports, aviation, intermodal connections); loss of function of drainage structures; and increased flooding in areas where flooding was not previously occurring. There are two main areas where transport and resilience are enhanced through program activities: (i) through planning of risk-sensitive, transit-oriented development, and (ii) by reducing disaster risks increasing preparedness through better design and construction standards, asset management and maintenance practices, and contingency planning. Key areas of our work under the Resilient Transport include:

  • Operational engagement: including provision of coordinated Technical Assistance between the Disaster Risk Management and Transport Practices of the World Bank Group (WBG), with support from the GFDRR. Influencing in-country engagements will be a focus along the following infrastructure life cycle components: a) institutional and regulatory capacity building engagements; b) systems planning engagements; c) engineering and design engagements; d) asset management engagements; and e) contingency programming engagements.
  • Knowledge management: creating a knowledge sharing environment and community of practice (CoP) for DRM and Transport sector specialists to better develop a comprehensive menu of services to offer potential clients of both sectors, involving the development of a Knowledge Exchange program that will integrate workshops, site visits, peer-peer knowledge sharing and action planning to support World Bank clients on specific topics.
  • Flagship initiatives: providing support to launch certain flagship initiatives, where the focus will be to consolidate existing engagements and scale-up support for integrating resilience measures in transportation systems.

In Brazil, the World Bank provided cooperation in strengthening natural disaster resilience of federal highway infrastructure through preliminary diagnostics on disaster risk management for federal road infrastructure; identification and analysis of priority actions to climate resilience. Furthermore, the technical assistance contributed to increase the capacity and knowledge of selected Local Government Units (LGUs) in the Philippines in dealing with climate/disaster risks faced by local transport infrastructure; and pilot an institutionalized coordination process with national agencies to better inform local roads planning, using a learning-by-doing approach.

Resilient Infrastructure By The Numbers

Resilient Infrastructure Grants Around the World
Nature-Based Solutions

The Nature-Based Solutions Initiative is working to mainstream the use of nature-based interventions to manage disaster risks and establish long-term resilience.

Fred Pedroso
Disaster Risk Management Specialist
Jun Rentschler
Senior Economist
Paolo Avner
Urban Economist