Deploying Digital Tools to Withstand Climate Change in Low-Income Countries
- Climate change is increasing the frequency of natural hazards.
- Disaster risk management specialists have improved the ability of countries to respond to risks, using a variety of digital technologies.
- Mapping, micro-tasking and visualizing tools are critical to reduce the impact of climate change in the world’s poorest countries.
Although climate change is sometimes viewed as an abstract and future risk, its catastrophic impacts have already been felt in numerous areas, from coastal cities pummeled by stronger storms, to harvests blighted by locusts, droughts and floods.
Disaster risk management experience shows there is a wide range or relatively low-cost and effective measures to fight back, save lives and protect hard-earned development gains. Whereas cyclones in the 1970s used to kill tens of thousands of people in places like Bangladesh, they now take far fewer lives thanks to better preparedness and investments in cyclone shelters, community based early warning systems and improved storm forecasting and tracking by satellite.
The World Bank’s disaster risk specialists help countries around the world prepare for catastrophes such as earthquakes and extreme weather events with support from the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR).
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Much of that experience in recent years has focused on leveraging advances in digital technology to increase different aspects of resilience. Examples below cover shared datasets and maps in Bangladesh, drones and mobile devices in Tanzania, and digital representations of vulnerable shorelines and population centers in the Marshall Islands. Collectively, these tools increase the power of decision-makers to chart a better future in the face of increasingly challenging climatic conditions.
Mapping and assessing vulnerable areas in Bangladesh
In Bangladesh, one of the climate vulnerable countries in the world, cyclones over the Bay of Bengal have already increased in frequency and are projected to become more intense. Mapping vulnerable areas using Geographic Information System (GIS) and making datasets available across agencies is leading to better informed decision-making.
While location data and maps were held previously by individual, non-networked agencies, they are now available for cross-referencing on a platform called GeoDASH, supported by GFDRR and transferred to the Bangladesh Computer Council in December 2015. As of April 2021, over 3,700 users representing 55 public, private, and civil society organizations have shared data, making available 740 datasets from road network maps and building footprints to the location of water, gas, and utilities in a secure platform. All of these datasets are available to the public in a widely usable format.
The platform has been used by the Directorate of Primary Education of Bangladesh to assess 35,000 schools with respect to the type of infrastructure, water and sanitation facilities, access to roads, and overall capacity during natural disasters. Bangladesh’s Local Government Engineering Department used geospatial layers to produce cyclone risk maps that will guide investment plans for cyclone shelters in both urban and rural areas of Bangladesh. GeoDASH was also instrumental in the design of the first phase of the IDA and CIF-funded Coastal Embankment Improvement Project, a project focused on improving 10 vulnerable coastal polders of Bangladesh with coastal embankments, hydraulic structures and protective works. And geospatial data analysis supported by the platform informs the ongoing Urban Resilience Project that is strengthening the capacity of government agencies to respond to emergency events and reduce the vulnerability of future building constructions to disasters in the cities of Dhaka and Sylhet.
“We’re finding more and more that cross-referencing the locations of roads, administrative boundaries, cyclone shelter locations is indispensable to our work. Planning for the unexpected using geospatial data has become hard-wired in our projects from upgrading coastal resilience infrastructure to providing basic services to vulnerable refugee groups and displaced populations”.
Swarna Kazi, Senior Disaster Risk Management Specialist, World Bank
For more information, please read the original article here: https://www.worldbank.org/en/news/feature/2021/04/19/deploying-digital-tools-to-withstand-climate-change-in-low-income-countries