Opening Remarks at the Regional Knowledge Forum on Post-Disaster Recovery - Stephen Groff | Asian Development Bank

Opening Remarks at the Regional Knowledge Forum on Post-Disaster Recovery - Stephen Groff

Speech | 22 October 2015

Opening remarks by ADB Vice-President Stephen Groff at the Regional Knowledge Forum on Post-Disaster Recovery held 20-21 October 2015 in the ADB Headquarters, Manila, Philippines.

I would like to welcome you to ADB, and to the Regional Knowledge Forum on Post- Disaster Recovery. I am very pleased to acknowledge the presence of Honorable Secretary Arsenio Balisacan, Secretary of Socioeconomic Planning and Director General, National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) Philippines who has kindly agreed to deliver the keynote speech.

Natural hazards present one of the most serious threats to inclusive sustainable socio- economic development in Asia and the Pacific. They continue to cause significant loss of life and disrupt huge numbers of lives.

In the 10-year period 2005-2014 alone, almost 425,000 lives were lost and 1.4 billion people affected by disasters, equivalent to 84% of persons affected globally. Disasters caused $722 billion worth of direct physical losses in Asia and the Pacific, equivalent to 47% of the global total and average losses of $198 million per day. Losses in ADB’s development member countries alone averaged $120 million per day.

From the 2001 Gujarat earthquake, the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the earthquakes in Pakistan, PRC and most recently in Nepal; the floods in Pakistan, Cambodia and more recently in Myanmar, ADB has been partnering with our developing member countries to provide support in the wake of disasters. Two years ago when Typhoon Yolanda struck the Philippines, we also responded to the needs of the government and typhoon-affected communities through a package of emergency assistance grants and loans.

Between August 1987 and December 2014, ADB approved $24.9 billion—for a total of 801 disaster risk management (DRM) and DRM-related projects. Of this, 26% ($5.97 billion) was for relief, early recovery and reconstruction. Several general principles guide ADB’s support to governments in post-disaster recovery, these include:

  • The “Building Back Better’ principle. Our support to post-disaster recovery includes more resilient buildings such as school building, accompanied by education and awareness for disaster preparedness.
  • Another important principle is inclusiveness, to ensure that the needs of the poor and other vulnerable social groups are considered.
  • Capacity and governance. ADB works closely with governments to help build strong institutional capacity, and to ensure sound governance and fiduciary risk management systems for the recovery and reconstruction process.

Our experience with the range of support provided to the government for the response to Typhoon Yolanda, has taught us some important lessons, especially around the different aspects of post-disaster recovery. These include:

  • The importance of undertaking robust assessments of damages and losses to understand the full impact of the disaster, identify needs of the most affected and align recovery priorities with long-term development priorities. Such assessments should be led by the government and supported by development partners, where needed. It is equally important that such assessment is carried out rapidly after a disaster in order to influence mobilization of resources both from national and external sources.
  • The need for strong government oversight to coordinate with the different sectors as well as development partners throughout the recovery process.
  • Recovery needs can be overwhelming and it takes years to achieve full recovery. Thus as part of recovery planning, there is a strong need to provide a comprehensive framework that outlines a phased and flexible approach to meet the evolving needs of the affected communities; helps establishing linkages between various sectors; and allows to break the needs down into smaller, more manageable portions but without losing sight of the big picture.
  • Implementation of post-disaster recovery should not be seen as business-as- usual. The window of opportunity provided by the recovery process should be capitalized to strengthen resilience to future hazards in order to “break free from the cycle of destruction and reconstruction”.1

I would be interested to find out if these lessons we are learning also resonate with your own experiences. I am glad to see that you will be sharing experiences from the region, and also hearing from about recovery efforts undertaken post Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy.

Every disaster represents a setback to development. Every disaster leaves us more vulnerable and exposed. We need to reduce these setbacks as much as we can, otherwise we are simply spending valuable resources to start over, rather than stride forward. I wish all in attendance a successful and fulfilling Knowledge Sharing Forum on Post-Disaster Recovery.

1 President Aquino for Development Asia, ADB. May 2014