Building Back Better : Achieving Resilience through Stronger, Faster, and More Inclusive Post-Disaster Reconstruction

The 2017 Unbreakable report made the case that disaster losses disproportionately affect poor people. The Caribbean hurricane season of 2017 was a tragic illustration of this. Two category 5 hurricanes wreaked destruction on numerous small islands, causing severe damages on islands like Barbuda, Dominica, and Saint Martin. The human cost of these disasters was immense, and the impact of this devastation was felt most strongly by poorer communities in the path of the storms. And yet, amidst the destruction it is essential to look forward and to build back better. In this 2018 report the authors explore how countries can strengthen their resilience to natural shocks through a better reconstruction process. Reconstruction needs to be strong, so that assets and livelihoods become less vulnerable to future shocks; fast, so that people can get back to their normal life as early as possible; and inclusive, so that nobody is left behind in the recovery process. The benefits of building back better could be very large – up to US$173 billion per year globally – and would be greatest among the communities and countries that are hit by disasters most intensely and frequently and that have limited coverage of social protection and financial inclusion. Small island states – because of their size, exposure, and vulnerability – are among the countries where building back better has the greatest potential. A stronger, faster, and more inclusive recovery would lead to an average reduction in disaster-related well-being losses of 59 percent in the 17 small island states covered in the report.



The Resilience Measurement Practical Guidance Note Series synthesizes existing technical documents into pragmatic guidance to assist practitioners in integrating core aspects of resilience measurement into their program assessments, design, monitoring, evaluation, and learning.
In five parts, the series introduces key concepts and guides practitioners through the process of resilience measurement, from assessment to analysis. Unlike many other program impacts (nutrition levels, poverty, etc.), resilience is not an end in itself but rather an ability that shapes how and why outcomes change over time. This makes resilience measurement different from measurement of other program concepts, thus the need for this guidance.

Humanitarian response in urban areas

Humanitarian crises are increasingly affecting urban areas either directly, through civil conflict, hazards such as flooding or earthquakes, urban violence or outbreaks of disease, or indirectly, through hosting people fleeing these threats. The humanitarian sector has been slow to understand how the challenges and opportunities of working in urban spaces necessitate changes in how they operate. For agencies used to working in rural contexts, the dynamism of the city, with its reliance on markets, complex systems and intricate logistics, can be a daunting challenge. Huge, diverse and mobile populations complicate needs assessments, and close coordination with other, often unfamiliar, actors is necessary.


Low levels of awareness of climate risks and the availability of climate services are significant barriers to climate adaptation in the electricity sector, according to new research from Germany. However, the research also finds that the underlying market opportunity for climate services remains strong.
Damage to a critical infrastructure, its destruction or disruption by for example natural disasters, will have a significant negative impact on the security of the EU and the well-being of its citizens. Focussing on the German electricity sector, the report found that stakeholders in the sector claimed to need seasonal forecasts and decadal predictions, the latter aligning closely with energy companies’ time frames for strategic planning. However, despite this, there is currently a low level of demand for climate services from the sector.

Solar power is being used as disaster relief. Here's how

In the seven months since Hurricane Maria devastated the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico, efforts to restore the island to normalcy have been frustratingly slow. As many as 62,000 residents—or about five percent of the population—are still without power, a condition that is not only an annoyance to those living in the darkness, but also a potential danger. Lives depend upon having medical equipment running, food storage systems need to be in place to avoid spoilage, and rescue teams need lighting, to name a few key power needs. And while food and water can be shipped in, power must be repaired, which can taken days, weeks or—in the case of Puerto Rico—even months.

Editor's Note


Back in 2002, as part of my engineering degree, I interned at the Regional Fire Department for the Russian Republic of Bashkortostan. As part of my duties, I organized years of statistics in dusty archives. When I compiled them in a simple excel graph, I was startled: the number of fires and the number of casualties increased dramatically between 1991 and 1992, with elderly hit the hardest. Something extremely significant had happened, something that fundamentally altered fire dynamics in the republic.