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Disaster resilience in risk-prone Asia needs realistic policy and financial planning

Published: 13th Apr, 2019

As per new Asian Development Bank (ADB) report four in five people affected by natural disasters are in Asia, putting the region’s prosperity at risk.


As per new Asian Development Bank (ADB) report four in five people affected by natural disasters are in Asia, putting the region’s prosperity at risk.


  • The report is published under ADB’s flagship Asian Development Outlook (ADO) 2019. It released ahead of the biennial global platform for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) scheduled in May 2019 — is very well-timed and deserves to be discussed on behalf of the Asian nations to strengthen disaster resilience in the region.
  • Over the past three decades, natural disasters have affected over 10 million people throughout the Central Asian region and caused economic losses of almost $2.5 billion. In this backdrop, experts from the Central Asian countries also agreed on increasing financial protection against natural disasters at a regional forum on Disaster Risk Financing held at Almaty in February 2019.

Key Findings:

  • With nearly 38,000 disaster fatalities per year between 2000 and 2018, the region accounted for 55 per cent of the 60,000 disaster fatalities across the world.
  • The region also accounted for 26 per cent of the $128 billion in economic damage due to natural disasters.
  • In Asia, 82 per cent of the disasters ensued from extreme weather events such as floods, storms and droughts.

Who suffers the most?

  • It has been recognised that the poor suffer the maximum brunt of natural catastrophes.
  • A survey conducted across five Asian countries found that, among the rural households surveyed, 90 per cent suffered either loss of life or significant damage to assets from floods in the past decade, and their financial recovery took more than three times longer compared to urban households.
  • The ADB report highlights case studies from Indian cities like Mumbai, Chennai and Puri, which show that in the absence of social protection; disaster-hit families deplete their savings or borrow at high interest rates from informal sources, pushing them into indebtedness and poverty traps.

Way Forward:

  1. a) Funding needed to strengthen disaster resilience
  • Asia is projected to need $26 trillion in infrastructure investment between 2016 and 2030, or $1.7 trillion per year.
  • Hence, planning for and investing in climate-friendly and disaster-resilient infrastructure from the start will be a cost-effective way to reduce future losses.
  • The report calls upon the international agencies for more financial support.
  • At present, international agencies provide seven times more assistance to the developing countries to respond to disasters after they occur, than fund preparation programmes beforehand.
  • Even though many countries in the region are adapting the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, the increasingly high losses from such disasters need effective actions too.
  • It also urges governments in the region to work on realistic policy and budget planning.
  • It suggests that Asian nations integrate disaster risk reduction into national development and investment plans, and spend more on prevention.

    Sendai Framework

    • It is the first major agreement of the post-2015 development agenda, with seven targets and four priorities for action.
    • It was endorsed by the UN General Assembly following the 2015 third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (WCDRR).
    • It is a 15-year, voluntary, non-binding agreement.
    • UNISDR has been tasked to support the implementation, follow-up and review of the Sendai Framework.
    • Aim: The substantial reduction of disaster risk and losses in lives, livelihoods and health and in the economic, physical, social, cultural and environmental assets of persons, businesses, communities and countries.
    • The Sendai Framework is the successor instrument to the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA) 2005-2015: Building the Resilience of Nations and Communities to Disasters.

    1. b) Insurance against catastrophes
    • According to the report, although climate change is spurring more natural hazards and rapid urbanisation is increasing exposure to such hazards, only around 8 per cent of Asia’s catastrophe losses since 1980 have been covered by insurance.
    • Many developing countries in Asia now boast of multiple disaster insurance schemes, including 15 in India, but effectiveness of such schemes needs to be prioritised.
    • In fact, Southeast Asia Disaster Risk Insurance Facility (SEADRIF) — Asia’s first regional facility to provide climate and disaster risk financing and insurance solutions, including a regional catastrophe risk insurance pool — was established nearly four months ago.

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