Natural Disasters

Natural Disasters

Helping Latin America and the Caribbean manage natural disaster risks

Natural hazards and disasters can have significant impacts on the economic and social development of Latin America and the Caribbean. The IDB is committed to assisting countries to incorporate appropriate risk management in national development planning.

The Bank has developed an integrated disaster risk management approach that emphasizes actionsthat are taken before a hazard results in a disaster, and incorporates climate change adaptation. The Bank also works with countries to better prepare for emergencies and improve their emergency response, and it also plays an important role in helping them to revitalize their development efforts post-disaster and avoid rebuilding vulnerability.

The IDB assists countries in the design and implementation of integrated disaster risk management plans, involving four principal lines of action: risk identification; prevention and mitigation ; financial risk management ; and institutional strengthening for preparedness, response and recovery.

Risk Identification
Risk Identification

The IDB believes that the evaluation of disaster risk and its review with country authorities is a critical approach to enhanceing awareness of this threat to development and to encourageing countries to allocate scarce resources to improve their risk management. Therefore, the Bank helps countries in Latin America and the Caribbean to identify the types and magnitudes of potential impacts that are associated with disasters caused by natural hazards and that may affect development investments.

The Bank provides technical assistance to member countries to develop Indicators of Disaster Risk and Risk Management, which allows them to assess their physical, financial, and socioeconomic, and environmental vulnerabilities and risks to natural hazards and disasters and to measure and monitor their performance in risk management.

In addition, it provides support for a strategic country risk evaluation: a more detailed probabilistic assessment of risk that identifies the geographic areas and sectors at risk, probable maximum losses associated with catastrophic events and their economic impacts. This information provides useful guidance to countries regarding the relative priority to be assigned to disaster risk reduction and informs the identification of specific areas of intervention to improve risk management at the national, sectoral and local levels, including investments in prevention and mitigation.

Strategic Country Risk Evaluation: 

Prevention and Mitigation
Prevention and Mitigation

The Bank helps countries in Latin America and the Caribbean to reduce vulnerability and risk to acceptable levels by providing support for investments that avoid the adverse impacts of hazards and minimize related disasters.

These activities may include:

  • building new infrastructure or strengthening existing infrastructure that can resist the impact of natural hazards and disasters; such as wind-proofing facilities, retrofitting, flood control works, slope stabilization, shoreline and wetlands protection;
  • strengthening of national and local institutions and capacities in prevention and mitigation;
  • policies and programs that guide development towards a reduction in vulnerability, such as physical development planning and development regulations including land use planning and zoning, building codes and standards;
  • supporting community risk management and adaptation programs; and
  • public education and training.
Preparedness Response, and Recovery
Preparendness and response

Improving emergency preparedness and response against natural catastrophes

The IDB also helps countries in Latin America and the Caribbean to improve their readiness to cope quickly and effectively with a disaster emergency. It supports the strengthening of early warning systems, adoption of communication technologies, public information and education, and preparedness and contingency plans.

Immediately after a disaster occurs, the IDB can assist member countries during the emergency phase by providing up to $200,000 in grants for humanitarian assistance to finance vital necessities such as food, clothing, temporary shelter, medicines, and personal welfare.

Rebuilding after natural disasters

The Bank also provides up to US$20 million during the rehabilitation phase to assist a country's recovery from a disaster event. The resources may be used for damage and needs assessment; cleaning and clearing; and for the restoration of basic services and critical infrastructure to the pre-disaster state.

Immediate Response Facility for Emergencies Caused by Disasters

The IDB also works closely with member countries and other agencies during the reconstruction phase to revitalize economic activities and development. The Bank provides investment support to reestablishing damaged infrastructure and providing necessary services and safety for the affected population; and to ensureing that economic activities are normalized, taking into account lessons learned from the disaster in order to avoid rebuilding vulnerability.

Financial Risk Management
Financial Risk

Latin America and the Caribbean have a high exposure to natural disasters. The financial impact of disasters could compromise the social and economic development of the region. The IDB has developed a Financial Risk Management Approach that is helping Latin American and Caribbean countries manage the financial risks associated to natural disasters. The Approach has been designed in an integrated manner and it has three main lines of action:





The IDB’s Indicators of Disaster Risk and Risk Management allow countries to better assess countries’ disaster risk, serving as a useful guide for policymaking and government actions to reduce human, infrastructure, financial, and economic losses caused by earthquakes, floods and other natural events.

The system of indicators, first developed in 2005 with financial support from the IDB’s Multidonor Disaster Prevention Trust Fund and the Japan Special Fund, details the potential economic losses a group of 17 countries in this region could suffer in the event of a natural disaster and evaluates how effective their governments are in managing these risks.





Hector R. Malarin                           hectormal                     Division Chief

Cassandra Disaster Risk Management Lead Specialist

Sergio Senior Disaster Risk Management Specialist



Guillermo Collich

Principal Financial SpecialistJuan Jose Durante

Financial SpecialistJuan Martinez Alvarez

Financial ConsultantAngela Rabanal

Financial ConsultantAnnabella Gaggero

Project Assistant


The main purpose of the IDB's participation in the field of natural and unexpected disasters is to assist member countries in effectively protecting and resuming their socio-economic development.

The Bank also assists member countries in taking appropriate measures to reduce or avoid losses from all disasters. At their request, the Bank will participate in enhancing member countries' capacity to take into account their vulnerability to disasters in their development projects and programs and to respond to disasters.

In assisting borrowing countries affected by disasters, three stages of an event are distinguished: before, during and after its occurrence.


  1. Disaster Preparedness aims to lessen the impact of a disaster by structuring in advance the countries' ability to cope quickly and effectively with the emergency;
  2. Disaster Prevention and/or Mitigation including measures undertaken to prevent natural phenomenon or potential hazard from having harmful effects on persons, economic infrastructure or the environment. 

The IDB has recently developed an integrated approach to help countries manage natural disaster risks. The program creates a powerful incentive for countries to invest on prevention and it provides governments with a range of financial options to cover the emergency phase of disaster preparedness and response. 


The primary goal is to minimize the loss of life and property. Depending on the type of disaster and the state of preparedness, the Bank will collaborate with the requesting country in its efforts to achieve urgent priority objectives.

The Bank will mobilize resources to provide the requesting country with timely assistance in such urgent fields of activities as clearing and cleaning up the disaster area; activating routine emergency services; supplying the population with vital necessities they normally obtain for themselves; and providing public health measures and medical treatment. At the same time, the Bank will gather information on the disaster to prepare for further action.


The rehabilitation stage is designed to:

  1. Repair damage to service infrastructure as promptly as possible;
  2. Provide necessary services and safety for the population; and
  3. Guarantee the normalization of economic activities.  

In the rehabilitation stage, based on the conclusions and recommendations relating to damage assessments made by the country's authorities, the IDB country office staff, special missions, and qualified experts, the Bank will assign priorities to the financing of its rehabilitation activities.

Rehabilitation must ensure that all works and projects in execution that have not been severely damaged will be continued, so as to reach the goals pursued and to promote the economic and social development of the borrowing country, except in cases where it is more economical to abandon them.

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