Critical Infrastructure, Disaster Vulnerability and the Role of the Private Sector


This activity, led by the ProVention Consortium in 2002-2003, aimed to identify priorities for policy, research, and operational programmes for the protection of critical infrastructure (social, physical, and financial) from disaster impacts, particularly in urban areas.

Outputs & events

This initiative supported research related to protecting investments in critical infrastructure, particularly those that serve the poor, from disaster impacts. The initiative has linked and provided support to related efforts of ProVention partners, including a workshop on 'Integrated Disaster Risk Management: Megacity Vulnerability and Resilience' which took place at IIASA in Laxenburg, Austria, July 29-31, 2002. Support was also provided to a meeting organised by the Earthquakes and Megacities Initiative (EMI) held in Shanghai from October 31 through November 2, 2002, which focused on technical options for mitigating natural disaster risks and protecting communities.

These events culminated in a three-day international conference held from December 4-6, 2002 in Washington, DC entitled 'The Future of Disaster Risk - Building Safer Cities.' At this event, participants discussed trends that will affect the future vulnerability of urban centers to disaster impacts. Topics included: the vulnerability of infrastructure to climate variability; the impacts of disasters on macroeconomic growth; urban vulnerability to disasters; the impact of disasters on urban land markets; globalisation and disaster impacts; country cases of seismic retrofitting; the vulnerability of critical infrastructure to catastrophic failure; and mechanisms for increasing the resilience of essential social infrastructure systems that serve the poor, including hospitals, health centers, and schools. The final papers and conference proceedigs were published in September 2003.

The initiative also delivered some very practical outputs on protecting health facilities in disasters. Together with PAHO, ProVention and the World Bank developed guidelines for the construction of disaster resistant health facilities. Experts discussed the draft publication at a seminar entitled 'Hospitals in Disasters: Handle with Care', held in El Salvador from July 8 - 10, 2003. The guildelines are also available on-line on PAHO's website.