Disaster Resilience Unleashes Economic Potential – India

By Aparna Achuthan

Natural disasters can strike anyone, anywhere, but they have a disproportionate impact in the developing world. Developing countries lose on average 1% of their GDP each year due to disasters, compared to 0.1 to 0.3% in developed countries.

The Indo-Pacific region is particularly vulnerable. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the future will bring increasingly frequent and intense disasters to Asia and the Pacific Islands, with serious repercussions on the socio-economic development of this region of 4.3 billion people.

In light of these nations’ shared vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific, the Asia Foundation India-US Triangular Development Partnership (TriDeP) seeks to foster regional prosperity by building capacity, forging collaborations and implementing cooperative projects between India, the United States and third country partners in three related sectors: renewable energy, climate-smart agriculture and disaster risk reduction.

The UN in 2022 Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction predicts, based on current trends, that the annual number of disasters worldwide could increase by up to 40% by 2030. Economic losses from disasters have already more than doubled over the past three decades. Every nation, and the global community as a whole, must take action to mitigate disaster risk and build resilience to reduce the destruction of lives and livelihoods, especially for the most vulnerable.

F-target of Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction calls on nations to “significantly strengthen” international cooperation with developing countries to implement the 2030 disaster risk reduction framework, but it has apparently not gained traction. For every $100 of official development assistance (ODA) related to a disaster, only 50 cents are invested in disaster risk reduction. There is more cooperation in disaster response than in disaster preparedness.

A 2015 report of the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) and the World Bank attributes this, in part, to the misperception that investing in disaster preparedness is “a gamble that only pays off when disaster strikes”. Developing countries in the Indo-Pacific find themselves in the difficult position of trying to prepare for a catastrophe that is only a possibility while maintaining harmony between competing political, social and economic interests. the same resources. Too often it is politically more expedient to devote time, energy and resources to disaster response, where the public benefits are obvious to all.

But the same ODI and World Bank study presents evidence that investing in disaster resilience not only saves lives and reduces losses, but also unlocks economic potential. Improved roads, river banks, and weather forecasting capabilities reliably deliver other development benefits, even in the absence of a disaster. Measures that reduce disaster risk build economic confidence and encourage investment, entrepreneurship and innovation. from Mexico CADENA program, for example, has shown that weather-index insurance not only helps offset drought losses, but also increases the productivity of smallholder farmers. With insurance in place, farmers could borrow more easily, mitigating previous underinvestment in tools and fertilizers. Maize yields from farms participating in the insurance program have increased by an average of 6 percent.

However, building risk reduction capacity does not happen in isolation: international cooperation offers key benefits, including funding, capacity building and technology transfer. According to the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report, the case for international cooperation is strong because it addresses a common global problem and because of the economic efficiencies that can be achieved through cooperative solutions. In the Indo-Pacific region, South-South and triangular cooperation offers a pragmatic approach towards more resource-efficient solutions.

TriDeP is a step in this direction: it proposes to study Indian and American experience and expertise and share them across the Indo-Pacific. India suffered huge losses following the events of 1999 Odisha Cyclonethe 2001 Earthquake in Gujaratand the 2004 tsunami, which claimed the lives of thousands of people. This led to a thorough review of Indian disaster management policies and institutions and resulted in the Disaster Management Act of 2005 and subsequent institutions.

India, over time, has restructured its disaster management paradigm from post-disaster search and rescue to pre-disaster preparedness underpinned by strong legislative, institutional and technical capabilities. It has also adapted lessons learned from bilateral and multilateral engagements with United States and international organizations like the United Nations. India has now proven to be a significant and capable first responder to disasters, especially in South Asiaincluding the 2015 earthquake in Nepal.

The TriDeP program will build on India’s development leadership in the Indo-Pacific to share Indian innovations and expertise in the region. As part of this program, The Asia Foundation has also secured a place on the organizing committee of the session “Cross-border cooperation for enhanced capacity and action” during the seventh Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction. We will continue to work with like-minded stakeholders to strengthen international cooperation in disaster risk reduction and achieve the goal set out in Goal F of the Sendai Framework.

Aparna Achuthan is Program Officer at the Asia Foundation’s India-US Triangular Development Partnership. She can be contacted at [email protected] The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author, and not those of The Asia Foundation.

Comments are closed.