Learning Lessons: ADB’s Response to Natural Disasters and Disaster Risks

Evaluation Document | 1 September 2012
This brief highlights lessons and recommendations from an independent evaluation report that assessed ADB support for disaster prevention and recovery programs during 1995-2011.

Natural disasters triggered by extreme hazards have increased sharply worldwide since the 1980s, as measured in lives lost, displaced people, and financial cost. Asia and the Pacific have borne the brunt of the physical and economic damage. This brief highlights lessons and recommendations from an independent evaluation report that assessed ADB support for disaster prevention and recovery programs during 1995-2011.

The evaluation finds that disaster recovery projects have been much more successful than ADB-supported projects overall. Nonetheless, it also finds that most ADB country programs have not treated the growing frequency of natural disasters as a systemic risk to economic growth. Even more worrisome are the low ratings for the sustainability of projects.

According to the evaluation, it is vital to mainstream disaster risk reduction measures by raising awareness in developing member countries, continuous dialogue with governments, sharpening ADB's focus on sustainability in disaster prevention projects, and knowledge consolidation. In terms of disaster recovery, the reports points to the importance of community involvement in prioritizing activities, delegation to resident missions to speed decision-making, and the advantages of larger contracts for major infrastructure repair in terms of efficiency.

The study also stresses that special attention must be given to disaster victims and disadvantaged groups, particularly women, who are often more vulnerable due to lower access and control over resources such as housing, transport, and food.