The Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami on March 11, 2011, is a tragic reminder that no country or community is totally safe from natural disasters. The earthquake measuring a staggering 9.0 on the Richter scale hit the Tohoku region along the Pacific coast of Ja- pan. While the damage from the earthquake itself was minimal because people were prepared and had learned from previous disasters, the subsequent tsunami caused extreme devastation to life and property, which shows that even the best prepared country will experience ex- ceptional disasters. We express our sincere condolences to those affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, and admire the courage and efforts of people for recovery and reconstruction.
At least 80 countries around the world are consid- ered vulnerable to natural disasters. Large-scale natural disasters, once they occur, take a heavy toll on the lives of people. They can also destroy years of development efforts in an instant. Disaster risk management (DRM) should be taken into account as a major development challenge because the poor and the vulnerable are the most exposed to the risks of natural disasters. Therefore, the Government of Japan, in cooperation with the World Bank Group, has repeatedly advocated the importance of integrating DRM into development agenda. We believe it important to take advantage of lessons learned from the disaster and the reconstruction efforts in Japan as global public goods for future development policy.
This report, Learning from Megadisasters, consoli- dates the set of 36 Knowledge Notes, research results of the joint study undertaken by the Government of Japan and the World Bank. It summarizes the lessons learned from the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami and provides guidance to other disaster-prone countries for
mainstreaming DRM in their development policies. It is clear that financial resources alone are not sufficient to deal with disasters and to spur development. Technical assistance and capacity building are equally important. In Japan’s case, we learned how communities can play a critical role in preparing for and coping with natural disasters. Communities can help prevent damage from spreading, maintain social order, and provide support to the vulnerable. Only through technical cooperation can such know-how be passed on to other countries and be adapted to their local circumstances.
The Sendai Statement, a joint statement on mainstream- ing DRM issued by the World Bank Group president and Japan’s finance minister in October 2012, emphasized the need to increase both technical and financial assistance for DRM in developing countries. It recognized that DRM is an essential part of enhancing sustainable development. Therefore, we urge the World Bank and other develop- ment assistance agencies to mainstream DRM into their operations. Japan, on its part, will spare no effort in build- ing a more disaster resilient world in cooperation with the World Bank and other partners, by leveraging its exper- tise, technology, and staff. We expect a newly established Disaster Risk Management Hub of the World Bank in Tokyo to play a leading role to serve to match developing countries’ needs with our technologies and expertise, and also disseminate the knowledge to the world.
We hope that Learning from Megadisasters will help development partners explore how to best integrate DRM into development policies and programs.