Publicly-funded infrastructure must be designed resilient. When transport, health care, drinking water, sanitation, telecommunications, and electricity are all resilient, basic services are maintained during disaster, and infrastructure users are not put at risk by sub-standard structures. Furthermore, since infrastructure development attracts population and investment, planning and locating it thoughtfully can steer development toward safer areas.

GFDRR's engagement on resilient infrastructure provides technical assistance to governments for improving the design and resilience of new and rehabilitated infrastructure, with a focus on making school infrastructure safe and resilient to natural hazards by informing planned or ongoing investments. We bring together governments, the private sector, and civil society to enable countries to access the best experience and technical expertise, and use technology and data analytics to quantify the level of risk and prioritize actions in order to guide risk-reduction investments.

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Pillars of our Resilient Infrastructure Work

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.

Key areas of our work under GPSS include:

  • Working to make schools and the communities they serve more resilient to natural hazards. Resilient schools result in reduced physical impact on school infrastructure, minimized disruption to educational services, and lives saved in the event of a disaster.
  • Leveraging support by linking activities directly to large school investment programs.
  • Bringing together governments, the private sector, and civil society to enable countries to access the best experience and technical expertise.
  • Using technology and data analytics to quantify the level of risk and prioritize actions in order to guide risk-reduction investments.
Fernando Ramirez Cortes
Head of Safer Schools
Resilient Water

The Resilient Water Partnership Program works to mainstream disaster risk management in water supply and sanitation systems (WSS), and in hydraulic infrastructure such as dams. In FY19, a total of $1.4 million was provided to Bangladesh, Colombia, Indonesia, Botswana, Mozambique, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam to integrate resilience measures in water projects. For example, the Participatory Gender Vulnerability Assessment was completed to assess the impacts of flooding and malfunction of WSS systems on vulnerable populations in Bangladesh, especially for women.

Under the Resilient Water Partnership Program, technical support was provided to Lao PDR, India, the Philippines, and Sri Lanka to increase the resilience of critical hydraulic infrastructure to natural disasters and improve the safety of communities downstream. Given the high hydrological and seismic risks of the project areas, activities are developing comprehensive risk assessment frameworks and probability failure models to protect nearly 30 million beneficiaries. Approved in FY19, grant support is informing $538 million in World Bank IBRD/IDA investments, including the perpetration of a new $167 million operation for enhancing integrated watershed and water resource management in Sri Lankas

Akiko Toya
Jared Mercadante
Resilient Transport

Whether they are acting as a connection to crucial services or as life-saving conduits during emergency situations, transport linkages are critical to disaster risk management. When planned strategically, transport systems are foundational to the resilience of urban and rural residents. GFDRR’s transport program seeks to strengthen various modes of transport, reducing vulnerabilities and increasing the resilience of people and assets.

GFDRR’s work in resilient transport aims to move away from reactive responses to crises. Instead it seeks to foster a proactive approach to disaster risk management that considers residents, the environment, hydrology, and geology. The approach allows transportation infrastructure to remain resilient to changing risks and hazards and perform well throughout its lifetime by considering the entire life-cycle of the infrastructure — from planning, design, and construction to operations and maintenance. Climate and disaster risk management can be integrated in all phases of the infrastructure’s lifespan:



Transportation infrastructure is often built in high-risk areas, and may not consider long-term climate risks. Planning before implementation helps reduce these vulnerabilities.

GFDRR provides technical assistance to municipalities and governments, helping them conduct vulnerability and hazard assessments as part of the planning process, prioritize smart investment strategies, and plan redundancy of critical infrastructure to provide alternatives during a crisis. By reducing the need for future rebuilding, these efforts can reduce costs across the lifetime of the transportation infrastructure, as well as make it more resilient.



Innovative materials and designs can enhance the robustness and flexibility of transportation infrastructure.



Assessments, codes, standards, and maintenance are essential to reduce risk, but are often either overlooked or of substandard quality.

After infrastructure is built, asset management and maintenance are key to ensuring that the levels of designed resilience continue to be sustained. The transport program stresses ongoing maintenance programs and financial planning to fund maintenance and emergency contingencies, ensuring that infrastructure is prepared for continuous use, extreme events, and changing average conditions.

The program also works to map transport using open technologies, and to develop online and interactive management portals.



Even when transportation infrastructure is built well, there is the potential for failure, if the design conditions are exceeded or if maintenance is poor.

GFDRR guides local policies to improve responses to failure, investing in disaster response mechanisms and ensuring that linkages and flows exist for evacuation, communication, emergency response, and post- disaster recovery.



Partnerships help ensure that infrastructure has sustained and resilient capacity.

GFDRR works to connect governments with hydro-meteorological groups, civil defense agencies, and financial ministries, among others. Having a variety of stakeholders contributes to more accurate, more comprehensive risk information to inform construction and maintenance standards, and better planning and operation of emergency response systems and contingencies.

Akiko Toya
Jared Mercadante

Resilient Infrastructure By The Numbers

Explore more of our work.
This handbook outlines an approach to proactively manage the risks of geohazards on roads.
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Results in Resilience
Although Colombo is vulnerable to flooding, GFDRR & WB teams are analyzing risk data.
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Results in Resilience
Along with the GFDRR, Vietnam is implementing a pilot program for climate-resilient bridges.
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The South Asia Regional S-S Learning Workshop was launched in 2016 to enhance resilient transport.
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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.