South Asia is exposed to a variety of hazards, ranging from avalanches and earthquakes in the Himalayas to droughts and floods in the Indo-Gangetic Plain to cyclones in the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea.
In fiscal year 2021, the World Bank approved six new disaster risk management (DRM) projects for the South Asia region, adding $690 billion to the portfolio of 3 countries (India, Pakistan and Nepal). In that same fiscal year, GFDRR provided a total of $5 million in financing for DRM efforts in the region across four priority areas: 1) risk-informed decision making, 2) reducing risk and mainstreaming DRM, 3) financial preparedness to manage disaster and climate shocks, and 4) disaster preparedness and resilient recovery.
Below are a few project highlights from World Bank and GFDRR DRM engagements in the region in FY21.
India: Resilient Kerala
In June 2021, the World Bank Board of Executive Directors approved the $125 million Resilient Kerala program to support Kerala’s preparedness against natural disasters, climate change impacts, disease outbreaks, and pandemics. The program will focus on two key areas. First, it will incorporate disaster risk planning in the master plans of urban and local self-governments to ease financial constraints on the state government when faced with unexpected shocks. Second, it will help make the health, water resources management, agriculture, and road sectors more resilient to calamities. The Resilient Kerala Program builds on previous World Bank and GFDRR engagement in Kerala as documented by a recent short webinar and the Kaalavastha podcast series.
India: Coastal resilience
The assets and systems put in place by the National Cyclone Risk Mitigation Project (NCRMP) I & II have proven critical in protecting lives and livelihoods during the summer and autumn cyclones in 2020-21. In West Bengal, 137 shelters accommodated nearly 74,000 evacuees during cyclone Amphan in 2020 and a larger number during cyclone Yaas in 2021. Meanwhile, the completed cyclone shelters in Gujarat were used for large-scale evacuations during cyclone Tauktae in 2021. Several states, including Kerala, Karnataka, Gujarat, and West Bengal have been using the multi-purpose cyclone shelters as COVID-19 care centers since early 2020, including during the management of the second wave.
Nepal: Employment generation in earthquake reconstruction
The Nepal Earthquake Housing Reconstruction Project (EHRP), supported with $700 million in financing from the International Development Association (IDA), is working to help more than 330,000 homeowners from poor rural households in 32 affected districts of Nepal rebuild their homes and livelihoods in the aftermath of devastating earthquakes in the country in 2015. A key focus of these efforts has been to promote employment generation for all over the course of the reconstruction process.
Training programs have been developed which are designed to enable people living with disabilities to gain employment as masons. Training of trainers were held in all 14 earthquake affected districts in February and March 2021. The masons’ training however has been postponed because of the surge of COVID-19 infections in Nepal.
Looking ahead, Nepal’s National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) will also provide assistive devices and livelihood enhancement support to over 200 EHRP beneficiaries with disabilities. A preliminary needs assessment of 75 beneficiaries with disabilities has been conducted to understand the range of assistive devices requirement and livelihood enhancement options. Specialized need assessment of individual beneficiaries with disabilities will be conducted before designing the assistive devices.
These efforts build on previous employment generation initiatives undertaken with the support of the EHRP. For instance, the NRA had previously recruited nearly 800 mobile masons, of which approximately 20 percent were women. This exceeded the initial 10 percent target.
Sri Lanka: climate resilience improvement
Implemented between April 2014 to April 2021, the recently completed Climate Resilience Improvement Project is a transformative $152 million IDA-funded operation in Sri Lanka. The project contributed significantly to improved flood and drought resilience in vital irrigation, drainage and flood control infrastructure, reducing transport disruptions of the highways, provincial and local government roads during extreme rainfall events, and ensuring the safety and protection of students and teaching staff. Key achievements include: (i) over 170,000 hectares of land benefitted from increase in agricultural inputs and reduced annual crop losses due to extreme weather related events; (ii) 29,000 school students are protected from climate change exaggerated landslide risks; and (iii) resilient transport connectivity for 1.8 million people by rehabilitating and constructing 33 bridges/ causeways, slope stabilization for landslide risk mitigation in major highways, and provincial roads.
Regional: Inclusion Matters for Resilience in South Asia
Supported by the World Bank and GFDRR, the publication, Inclusive Resilience: Inclusion Matters for Resilience in South Asia, shows that, although most South Asian countries have put in place several DRM policies, programs, and plans that commit to promoting social inclusion, a gap persists between these policy instruments and the actions on the ground. The report, which has been distilled in a video feature, shares practical actions which can ensure that DRM project design and implementation considers the needs, capabilities, and voices of socially excluded groups. The report draws on analytical work which identified major factors for social inclusion in the DRM context in South Asia.
Regional: Building resilience to landslide and geo-hazard risk
The World Bank and GFDRR have supported the launch of an online training course on road geohazard risk management tailored to South Asia. Featuring theoretical modules on key topics such as institutional capacity and coordination, systems planning, engineering and design, operations and maintenance and contingency programming, the course also distills knowledge and lessons learned from a series of trainings and workshops that have been conducted over the years to address geohazard risks in the region.
The development of the course is part of ongoing regional efforts to build resilience to landslide and geohazard risk in South Asia. For example, in Pakistan, multi-geohazard risk studies have been implemented in geohazard-prone Chitral District to help support the National Disaster Risk Management Fund (NDRMF) to reduce both climate- and earthquake-driven geohazard risks in communities and key infrastructures. Meanwhile, in Bhutan, an online mapping system for road geohazard risks and road asset management has been developed.