The net benefit on average of investing in more resilient infrastructure in low- and middle-income countries would be $4.2 trillion, with $4 in benefit for each $1 invested, according to a report from the World Bank and the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery.
The report, Lifelines: The Resilient Infrastructure Opportunity, lays out a framework for understanding infrastructure resilience, or the ability of infrastructure systems to function and meet users’ needs during and after a natural hazard. It examines four essential infrastructure systems:
Making them more resilient is critical, the report finds, to avoid costly repairs and to minimize the wide-ranging consequences of natural disasters for the livelihoods and well-being of people. Outages or disruptions to power, water, communication and transport affect the productivity of firms and the incomes and jobs they provide, as well as directly impacting people’s quality of life.
“Resilient infrastructure is not about roads or bridges or powerplants alone. It is about the people, the households and the communities for whom this quality infrastructure is a lifeline to better health, better education and better livelihoods,” said World Bank Group President David Malpass. “Investing in resilient infrastructure is about unlocking economic opportunities for people. This report offers a pathway for countries to follow for a safer, more secure, inclusive and prosperous future for all.”
The report finds that the lack of resilient infrastructure causes more harm than previously understood. Natural disasters, for instance, cause direct damages to power generation and transport infrastructure, costing about $18 billion a year in low- and middle-income countries. But the wider disruptions they trigger is an even bigger problem. Altogether, disruptions caused by natural hazards, as well as poor maintenance and mismanagement of infrastructure, costs households and firms at least $390 billion a year in low- and middle-income countries.
Drawing from case studies, global empirical analyses and modeling exercises, the report also finds major region and country-specific implications of investing in resilient infrastructure. For instance, today Africa and South Asia bear the highest losses from unreliable infrastructure:
The report offers five recommendations to ensure that infrastructure systems and users become more resilient.