Natural disasters are a tragic interruption to the development process and impact developing countries in other ways than developed countries. Developing countries suffer the greatest costs when a disaster hits - more than 95 percent of all deaths caused by disasters occur in developing countries; and losses due to natural disasters are 20 times greater (as a percent of GDP) in developing countries than in industrial countries. Poorly planned city developments can turn a recurring natural phenomenon into a human and economic disaster. Similarly, allowing the degradation of natural resources increases the risk of disaster.

Key Challenges
Countries in West Africa have not been spared from the ever increasing spate of natural disasters in the economy. Researchers have predicted that floods, fires, earthquakes, and droughts will hit West African countries this century. The issue is not “if” disaster strikes but “when” it strikes, and the appropriate mitigation measures to be adopted. The challenge is the absence of clear plans to reduce such destruction if they occur.

Looking Ahead
There is a growing realization that, in addition to post-disaster relief and recovery measures, greater attention must be paid to pre-disaster measures to mitigate negative impacts from hazard events and to be better prepared for those that are not preventable. As the future is characterized by limited predictability, pre-disaster mitigation approaches face considerably more uncertainty than post-disaster approaches that react to situations as they unfold. The Institute’s activities shall be geared towards facilitating knowledge of disaster risks reduction, coping with the increasing phenomenon and economic cost, and adapting lessons from developed countries and other high prone areas to assist the country.