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BRIEF: Latin American Experience in Combining Disaster Risk Management with Poverty Reduction

BRIEF: Latin American Experience in Combining Disaster Risk Management with Poverty Reduction

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Published by ELLA Programme
Extreme weather events have a direct impact on households’ welfare, and in particular, the poorest, most socially excluded populations. Increasing frequency and intensity of disasters, such as earthquakes, hurricanes and flooding, is closely linked to the growing vulnerability of households and communities. Thus, the impacts of extreme events on poverty, income, consumption, health and education present a serious challenge to the well-being of these populations, and also produce negative long-term consequences for economic and social development across the region. In order to reduce the impacts of disasters on existing economic and social disparities, Latin American countries are implementing a range of initiatives that combine Disaster Risk Management (DRM) approaches with poverty reduction measures, social inclusion and the creation of jobs and productive activities. This Brief presents some key experiences from across the region, with a focus on urban governance, public investment systems and innovative insurance mechanisms. The Brief then describes the main contextual factors that explain why Latin American countries have made progress in these areas, as well as on-going challenges and key lessons that may be useful for other regions.
Extreme weather events have a direct impact on households’ welfare, and in particular, the poorest, most socially excluded populations. Increasing frequency and intensity of disasters, such as earthquakes, hurricanes and flooding, is closely linked to the growing vulnerability of households and communities. Thus, the impacts of extreme events on poverty, income, consumption, health and education present a serious challenge to the well-being of these populations, and also produce negative long-term consequences for economic and social development across the region. In order to reduce the impacts of disasters on existing economic and social disparities, Latin American countries are implementing a range of initiatives that combine Disaster Risk Management (DRM) approaches with poverty reduction measures, social inclusion and the creation of jobs and productive activities. This Brief presents some key experiences from across the region, with a focus on urban governance, public investment systems and innovative insurance mechanisms. The Brief then describes the main contextual factors that explain why Latin American countries have made progress in these areas, as well as on-going challenges and key lessons that may be useful for other regions.

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Published by: ELLA Programme on Apr 18, 2013
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ELLA AREA: ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT| ELLA THEME: DISASTER RISK MANAGEMENT IN CITIES
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ELLA Area: Environmental ManagementELLA Theme: Disaster Risk Management in Cities
Extreme weather events have a direct impact on households’ welare, andin particular, the poorest, most socially excluded populations. Increasingrequency and intensity o disasters, such as earthquakes, hurricanes andlooding, is closely linked to the growing vulnerability o households andcommunities. Thus, the impacts o extreme events on poverty, income,consumption, health and education present a serious challenge to the well-being o these populations, and also produce negative long-term consequencesor economic and social development across the region. In order to reducethe impacts o disasters on existing economic and social disparities, LatinAmerican countries are implementing a range o initiatives that combineDisaster Risk Management (DRM) approaches with poverty reductionmeasures, social inclusion and the creation o jobs and productive activities.This Brie presents some key experiences rom across the region, with a ocuson urban governance, public investment systems and innovative insurancemechanisms. The Brie then describes the main contextual actors that explainwhy Latin American countries have made progress in these areas, as well ason-going challenges and key lessons that may be useul or other regions.
SUMMARY
Policy Brief
Latin American countries are implementing arange of innovative strategies to addressthe underlying causes of disaster risk,while at the same time promotingsocial inclusion and productivegrowth.
A COMMON CHALLENGE: ENDING THE CYCLEOF DISASTER, VULNERABILITY AND POVERTY
The staggering cost o disasters represents a considerablechallenge to achieving the Millennium Development Goals(MDG), and principally Goal 1related to poverty reduction. Disasters cause substantial damage to human capital,including death and destruction, and produce harmulconsequences or nutrition, education,
1
health and income-generating processes.
2
Furthermore, disasters aect thepoorest populations rst and hardest, creating a viciouscycle between vulnerability and poverty.
1
Two-thirds o the $6 billion annual unds rom the World Bank spent on building schools as part o the Education For All programme are allocatedtowards replacing precarious or insecure constructions. See: World Bank /GFDRR, UNISDR, INEE. 2009. 
.INEE Secretariat, Washington, DC.
2
World Bank. 2009.
. World Bank, Washington, DC.
LATIN AMERICANEXPERIENCE IN COMBININGDISASTER RISK MANAGEMENTWITH POVERTY REDUCTION
LESSONS LEARNED
KEY
It is possible to address the underlying causes of risk and reduce povertyusing existing tools and strategies. Waiting for higher levels of economicdevelopment is unnecessary.Preventative resettlement programmes can build resilience to risk andimprove the quality of life of the poorest and most vulnerable urbanpopulations.
Integrating DRM into public investment systems protects national fnancial
resources from the economic impacts of disasters, thereby helping tomaintain macro-economic stability, sustain growth and protect povertyreduction efforts.
 
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ELLA AREA: ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT| ELLA THEME: DISASTER RISK MANAGEMENT IN CITIES
Source: United Nations Oce or Outer Space Aairs (UNOOSA). 2012.
. UNOOSA, Vienna.
Figure 1: Relationships Between Poverty, Vulnerability and Disasters
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Chilean Ministry o Planning. 2010
Encuesta Post Terremoto: Principales Resultados (Post-Earthquake Survey: Principal Results) 
. Governmento Chile, Santiago de Chile. For urther inormation on the impacts o the earthquake on productive resources and human well-being, see: USAID.2010.
.USAID, Washington, DC.
4
The Government o the Republic o Haiti. 2010. 
. Governmento Haiti, Port-au-Prince. For other examples rom the region’s cities, see: Hardoy, J., Pandiella, G. 2009.Urban Poverty and Vulnerability to Climate Change in Latin America.
Environment and Urbanization 
21 203-224.
5
See, or example: de la Fuente, A., Dercon, S. 2008. 
. BackgroundPaper or the 2009 ISDR Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction. UNISDR Arica, Nairobi.
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World Development 
24(5) 901-914.
7
Cherel-Robson, M. 2008.
.PhDDissertation. University o Sussex.
8
Dercon, S., Hoddinott, J., Woldehanna, T. 2005.Shocks and Consumption in 15 Ethiopian Villages, 1999-2004.
Journal o Arican Economies 
 14(4) 559-585.
To cite just a ew examples rom Latin America, as a resultoHurricane Mitchin 1998, the poorest amilies livingin Honduras lost 31% o their productive resources. TheGovernment o Chile estimates that an additional 500,000Chileans ell into poverty ater the 2010 earthquake, mainlydue to job loss.
3
In Haiti, the impacts o the 2010 earthquakewere elt particularly hard in the country’s poorestregions where chronic ood insecurity intensiied, healthinrastructure and social services collapsed and some 1.3million people were let homeless.
4
The grave impacts o disasters on poverty in Arican and Asiancountries have also been widely reported.
5
For example, inBurkina Faso poverty increased in the Sahel (rom 2% to 19%)and the Sudanian area (rom 12% to 15%) in the atermatho the 1984-1985 drought.
6
Between 1998 and 2000, naturaldisasters in Madagascar reduced inancial capacity toaccess ood by 46%.
7
In Ethiopia, in 1999 and 2002 uninsureddroughts increased consumption poverty by about 14%.
8
 Assessments carried out by theAsian Development Bank ound that as many as 2 million additional people could all
 
3
ELLA AREA: ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT| ELLA THEME: DISASTER RISK MANAGEMENT IN CITIES
into poverty as a result o the 2004 tsunami.
Underlying Causes of Risk 
Disaster risk is augmented by actors such as rapid urbangrowth and occupation o new areas o land, which in turn leadto increases in the quantity o people and assets exposed torisk. At the same time, weak institutional capacities amongstlocal government authorities or acilitating access to landand services by poor people has resulted in a model ourban growth characterised by the expansion o inormalsettlements into non-regulated areas prone to hazards. Today,at least 900 million people live in inormal settlements in citiesin developing countries, and many o these are located in highrisk zones.
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As it is, the livelihoods o poor urban populationsbarely cover basic necessities in terms o shelter, transport,education and health; a lack o sae housing, inrastructureand adequate public services - that could oer protection inthe event o earthquakes, cyclones and heavy foods – onlyserves to urther increase mortality risk.The degradation o ecosystems is another important actorthat increases disaster risk and poverty in urban areas.As well as causing a higher requency and intensity odisasters,
10
environmental damage produces direct lossesor poor populations that depend on ecosystem servicesor their livelihoods. Weak or non-existent social protectionmechanisms and scarce availability o insurance schemesalso heighten the impact o disasters on poorer urbanpopulations. Losses resulting rom disasters oten exceed theirresponse capacity and the high requency o extreme eventserodes resilienceover time. Progressive climate change acts as a powerul propeller in the cyclical relationship betweendisaster risk and poverty, drastically increasing the impact odisasters on poor people and on poverty reduction eorts .
11
 In the case o large-scale disasters, international aid onlyprovides or 10% o actual recovery and reconstruction costs.
12
 Disasters thereore require developing countries to divertsignicant resources that could otherwise be used to addressthe underlying causes o risk via poverty reduction and socio-economic development objectives. In this context, developingcountries across Asia,
13
Latin America
14
and Arica
15
havebeen developing Disaster Risk Management (DRM) strategiesaimed at increasing the resilience o communities as wellas stimulating growth and protecting poverty reduction anddevelopment investments.
16
This Brie ocuses on the LatinAmerican experience in implementing DRM strategies thatcombine with a poverty reduction approach.
17
 
REDUCING BOTH DISASTER RISK AND POVERTY:KEY LATIN AMERICAN EXPERIENCES
Across the region, Latin American actors have implementeda range o strategies or reducing the underlying actors orisk, while at the same time breaking the disaster risk-povertycycle. Some o the main strategies include: strengtheninglivelihoods (natural resource management; provision obasic services; and inrastructure development); goodurban governance (regulatory rameworks; planning orgrowth); nancial tools (credits and insurance); ecosystemmanagement (protected areas; payments or ecosystemservices); and community-based risk reduction approaches.
9
UN-HABITAT. 2011. 
. UN HABITAT, Washington, DC.
10
Natural ecosystems such as wetlands, orests, mangroves and watersheds play a undamental role in regulating the requency and intensity onatural hazards such as fooding and landslides. For urther inormation, see: UNEP. 2005.
. UNEP, Washington, DC.
11
ISDR. 2009. 
. ISDR, Geneva.
12
See: Global Humanitarian Assistance. 2011.
. GHA, Bristol.
13
UNISDR. 2012. 
. UNISDR, Geneva.
14
Regional Platorm or Disaster Risk Reduction o the Americas. 
15
UNISDR. 2011. 
. UNISDR, Geneva.
16
See: Inter-Parliamentary Union, UNISDR. 2010. 
IPUand UNISDR, Geneva.
17
Though this Brie is part o a set o materials ocused on DRM in cities, this particular Brie, given the nature o the subject matter, includesexamples both rom cities as well as rom national governments. In researching this Brie, we have given priority to technical studies andreports carried out by UN agencies, as well as international and multilateral institutions such as the World Bank, Economic Commission or LatinAmerica and the Caribbean and the Inter-American Development Bank. The reports o these bodies, undertaken as part o the internal work o theorganisation or commissioned to external experts, are high-quality and reliable, and oer applied and comparative research o dierent countrieso Latin America. We also drew on reports o the public institutions working on DRM in individual countries, and in some cases we consulted theresearch o private institutions, such as NGOs, with DRM expertise. Eorts have been made to ensure that the sources are as current as possibleand available online or easy reerence.

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