The Word disaster originates from the Greek dis (a negative prefix) and astrum (star), indicating a bad omen, whereas resilience comes from re (repeat) and silire (get ahead) – the ability to get back on track and overcome. At the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), we are committed to make all projects RESILIENT whether or not they are exposed to natural disasters.
Latin America and the Caribbean is a region exposed to all sorts of natural disaster resulting from hazards, including those from climate change. In 2017 alone, floods in Peru caused more than US$3.1 billion in economic losses. In addition, there were floods in Colombia, earthquakes in Mexico, hurricanes in the Caribbean, and wildfires in Chile.
In line with its disaster risk management policy and the resolution adopted by the Board of Governors in Bahamas to increase financing for Climate Change, the IDB has been working on a gradual and scaled methodology to systematically include disaster risk and climate change management in infrastructure projects through five steps to be taken during project preparation and implementation:
1.The first step, which we call Screening, is an early assessment using Geographic Information System (GIS) tools to determine if the project under consideration may be exposed to either geophysical or hydro-meteorological impacts, including the effects of climate-change. This first glance provides an overview of the potential threats in the project area.
2.The second step involves an estimation of the project’s criticality and vulnerabilities, including an assessment of the general features of the infrastructure involved. For example:
- What is the project’s scope?
- What are the physical characteristics of the infrastructure?
- How many people will benefit from the infrastructure’s services?
Reflecting on these questions may help evaluate the project’s criticality and vulnerabilities concerning natural hazards. This step helps complete the assessment mentioned in the first step and assigns the project a disaster risk rating to prioritize and scale efforts prior to conducting a disaster risk assessment. This step helps to prioritize the most critical projects.
3.The third step, “The Risk Narrative,” brings together all risk reduction or risk management considerations from previous studies that have already been incorporated into the project design and identify any possible gaps that need to be tackled. This step ensures that future studies take existing information into consideration, which ensures efficient allocation of resources in project preparation. If there are factors related to natural events that have not been properly considered, the follow step applies.
4.The fourth step is a qualitative risk analysis. This evaluation may include a “failure mode workshop” to examine all the possible ways in which the infrastructure might fail due to natural events and to design risk management measures. Stakeholders present in this workshop should include national and/or local government officials, the engineering firm, and the disaster risk and/or climate change expert. This assessment provides a formal and structured qualitative risk analysis that takes advantage of local knowledge and the expertise of engineering and risk professionals.
5.Lastly, the fifth step, quantitative assessment, comes into play if and when lingering uncertainties remain that may pose a major risk to the project. This final step is comprised of a deeper study to evaluate and model hazards in a project that require going beyond qualitative analysis. It involves quantifying the risk in terms of expected damages, economic losses, and loss of lives (if applicable). It includes:
- Modeling the hazards following specific methods and techniques accepted for each different hazard;
- Modeling the vulnerability of infrastructure exposed using engineering methods; and
- Estimating the respective damages and losses.
Based on this quantitative risk assessment, structural and non-structural risk-reduction measures should be proposed. These measures also need to be evaluated quantitatively in order to determine their effectiveness.
The purpose of these five steps is to identify and evaluate a project’s disaster and climate change risks and use it to inform the design as well as construction and operation stages. We invite you to read the document: Executive summary of Disaster and Climate Change Risk Assessment Methodology for IDB projects (English | Spanish) . Let’s work together to obtain more resilient and long-lasting projects in the long term.