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Last year more than 83 million people in low and middle income countries were affected by natural disasters. We may not know when or where the next disaster will strike, but we know it will. So why do we still treat disasters like surprises?
International appeals are generous, but they are usually launched only after disaster strikes, and funds and supplies are slow to arrive. A new CGD report urges a different approach: make disasters predictable. The report looks at how we can pre-arrange disaster response funding using the principles and practices of insurance, so that countries get the money as soon as they need it and donors actually pay less in the long run.
Vice President, Director of CGD Europe, and Senior Fellow
We launched the report at a recent CGD event with working group co-chairs Stefan Dercon—Chief Econmist at DFID, professor of economics at Oxford Univeristy, and co-author of a book called Dull Disasters—and Owen Barder, CGD vice president and director of our Europe program. They were joined by two members of the working group: Alice Albright, head of the Global Partnership for Education, and Rowan Douglas of insurance group Willis Towers Watson.
Today's podcast brings you a flavor of that event.
With Hurricane Irma now pushing a devastating path through the Caribbean, USAID is gearing up to do what it does best. Its Disaster Assistance Response Teams (DARTs) do amazing work—deploying rapidly in the wake of natural hazards like hurricanes and often bringing the logistical might of the US military with them. These teams go in big and fast to save lives, distribute food, set up emergency shelter, and prevent secondary impacts like disease outbreaks. But then things begin to falter.
In Haiti, already the poorest country in the western hemisphere, Hurricane Matthew’s devastation is still being calculated. We know that hundreds of people have died, and the damage to Haiti’s already-fragile infrastructure is immense. So what can people in rich countries do to help? Based on the latest research on humanitarian disaster relief and on the lessons learned in the wake of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, here are some do’s and some don’ts for policymakers and individuals.
“Cat” bonds are effectively a cheaper source of large-scale insurance coverage against clearly measured risks like earthquakes, storms, or even disease outbreaks. Generally, though, coverage hasn’t trickled down to the poorer and most at-risk countries—precisely those which are most vulnerable when aid fails to arrive or arrives piecemeal. Scaling up this market for lower-income countries would provide better shielding against many risks that undermine development overseas.