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3 things you need to know about adaptation and resilience

One of the most powerful cyclones to hit the coast of Africa devastated the city of Beira, Mozambique, in March 2019. Cyclone Idai brought damaging winds, torrential rain, and claimed hundreds of lives. Flooding would have been even more severe but for recent improvements in a stormwater drainage system under a project to build resilience to climate change.

Around the world, communities are adapting to the increasingly severe impacts of climate change.

The World Bank is helping countries adapt and increase their capacity to weather climate shocks, with projects supporting early warning systems, disaster response, civic awareness, strengthening buildings, and post-disaster recovery. That effort is even more critical as countries face the health and economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

Here are three key things to know about the World Bank Group’s efforts on adaptation and resilience.

1. Adaptation and resilience are inextricably linked to development outcomes.

Good adaptation can deliver good development outcomes, such as safer, better-off communities or hardier crops. At the same time, securing good development requires effective adaptation measures. Investing in adaptation and resilience is not about investing in roads or bridges or powerplants alone. It is about investing in people, businesses, and communities facing the impacts of a changing climate. It is about smarter development that can deliver health, education and livelihoods.

In Kampala, for instance, even just moderate floods block enough streets to make it impossible for over a third of people to reach a hospital during a medical emergency. Disruptions caused by natural hazards, as well as poor maintenance and mismanagement of infrastructure, cost households and firms at least $390 billion a year in low- and middle-income countries. These impacts range from businesses unable to keep factories running or process payments, to people unable to go to work, send children to school, or get to a hospital.

Investments to improve the resilience of infrastructure and boost adaptation are both sound and profitable: the overall net benefits of investing in resilient infrastructure in developing countries could amount to $4.2 trillion over the lifetime of new infrastructure – a $4 benefit for each dollar invested in resilience. In Indonesia, a two-decade-old program supported by the World Bank and the Global Environment Facility has restored and improved the management of coral reefs. Today, coral reefs deliver over $3.1 billion in value annually to Indonesia through tourism alone, not including their natural protection against coastal erosion and flooding. Indonesia has seen 17 percent growth in coral reef cover in six out of seven districts, the return of rare species, a 20 percent increase in the incomes of local people, and growing awareness of the importance of ocean health.

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