Announcement Archive

“Learning from Megadisasters” the Final Session

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

story from Tokyo Development Learning Center

Learning From Megadisaster Banner

How Can We Learn from Megadisasters”, a World Bank knowledge sharing seminar was hosted at the Tokyo Development Learning Center on October 18th, 2013.

The seminar was a part of a Japan/World Bank joint research project,  “Learning from Megadisasters” which was initiated months after the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake in October 2011 with the objective of sharing Japan’s knowledge and know-how of disaster risk management and post-disaster reconstruction with countries vulnerable to disasters and mainstreaming DRM. It has been collecting and analyzing information, data, and evaluations performed by academic institutions, NGOs, government agencies, and the private sector—providing documentation of the disaster and its aftermath—and has produced thus far 32+4 Knowledge Notes which are short, practical, booklets that sum up the successes and failures and lessons learned from the experience.

In the latter half of the two year project, capacity-building of DRM practitioners and policy makers as well as dissemination of the collected knowledge in the form of knowledge sharing sessions, seminars, workshops, study tours, and peer reviews made up the key components of the project. The project is coming to a close and the event on October 18th marked its final public seminar.

“Today, the session will first showcase how the lessons learned from the Great East Japan Earthquake were disseminated to the world and then we would like to open up the floor and invite everyone to discuss how those activities should be strengthened,” Special Representative, Yasusuke Tsukagoshi of the World Bank Tokyo Office said in his opening speech.

In 2011, disaster risk management was not yet a clearly defined priority within the context of development. However, “60% of disaster prevention and disaster risk management investments made in the developing countries around the world in the past 20 years have been made by the World Bank and Japan” said Ichiro Oishi, director of the Development Institutions Divisions, Ministry of Finance of the government of Japan. He continued that the government of Japan, as pointed out in the statements made in the Sendai Dialogue and during the 2013 IMF/WB Annual Meetings is keen on cooperating with the World Bank to offer Japan’s wealth of experience in disaster risk management and on mainstreaming DRM to tackle development challenges. The government of Japan is ready to work with the World Bank and provide up to US$100 million over the next 5 years to support these activities through the DRM-hub to be established in Tokyo.

Federica Ranghieri, Senior Urban Development Specialist, the World Bank Institute who served as Task Team Leader for the project highlighted that about 800 government officials and members of the parliament in 8 countries had been trained in the pilot capacity-building program and approximately 1,300 practitioners had joined the knowledge exchange sessions and/or the Community of Practice (CoP) on disaster risk management. The online Learning from Megadisasters CoP, a publicly available platform where members can post comments, blog, and continue to exchange and share ideas even after the close of the project prides itself as one of World Bank’s active CoP sites with the largest membership.

The project was unique that it targeted a diverse audience ranging from the technical community, NGO staff, local government officials, members of the parliament to ministers. That the project engaged policy makers such as government officials and members of the parliament has strong implications than engaging only the technical community. It is expected that policy makers equipped with a better understanding of DRM would be effective change agents that can push for actual and real changes in people’s day-to-day lives.

The latter part of the session consisted of a panel discussion which included speakers representing the international organization, civil society organization, development institution, and the academic community. The speakers were from the International Recovery Platform, World Vision Japan, Japan International Cooperation Agency, and Fukushima University. After the speakers finished their presentations, the audience had a chance to make comments and ask questions.

The participants who raised questions and volunteered comments came from equally diverse backgrounds, including those from civil society organizations, students, professors, development practitioners, and they voiced their opinions based on their particular standpoint, enriching the debate.
Although the session on October 18th marked the final knowledge sharing event for the project “Learning from Megadisasters”, the demand for knowledge sharing and capacity-building sessions still remains high.

“This is not the end,” as Ranghieri put it. “The existing fruitful and effective cooperative working relationship between the World Bank and the Government of Japan will go further,” she said. The momentum of collaboration between the World Bank and the Government of Japan in the area of DRM is not showing any signs of dwindling. Both parties are committed to mainstreaming DRM and maintaining DRM high on the development agenda. Resources are being allocated by both parties and a new collaborative project that adds on the legacy of “Learning from Megadisasters” is already underway.