Yemen

Tropical Storm, October 2008 Recovery Framework Case Study August 2014

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Evaluation and Lessons Learned
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INTRODUCTION

The World Bank’s Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR), the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the European Union (EU) are working on a guide for developing disaster recovery frameworks (DRF). This guide aims to help governments and partners plan for resilient post disaster recovery while contributing to longer term sustainable development. It is based on practices gleaned from country experiences in disaster recovery around the world. Hence, the development of the DRF Guide entailed the development of country-level case studies as well as thematic case studies on disaster recovery.

These case studies have been designed to collect and analyze information on: i) disaster recovery standards and principles adapted by countries for specific disasters; ii) planning efforts for making such recovery efficient, equitable and resilient; iii) policies, institutions and capacities to implement and monitor disaster recovery; and iv) ways and means for translating the gains of resilient recovery into longer-term risk reduction and resilient development.

Importantly, these case studies aim to learn from, and not evaluate, country reconstruction initiatives. Practices learned from each country’s experience will inform the contents of the guide for developing a DRF. Additionally, the case studies examine the planning processes and not the implementation details of recovery experiences. As such, they do not seek to offer a comprehensive account of the post-disaster recovery program, but instead provide details and insight into the decision-making processes for reconstruction policies and programs.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

In October 2008, a major tropical storm produced one of the worst adverse natural events ever to affect the Republic of Yemen. Flooding from the storm caused an estimated $1.6 billion in damage and losses, or about 6% of the country’s GDP. Flooding from the storm caused an estimated $1.6 billion in damage and losses, or about 6% of the country’s GDP. While the storm’s impact was felt across the country, the Wadi Hadramout region was the worst hit, sustaining 67.5% of the country’s overall damage and loss,.

Hadramout’s coastal areas alone sustained 28.6% of the total impact of the storm and flooding. The Al-Mahara governorate east of Hadramout was also affected, sustaining 3.9% of the total effect of the storm.

Years of political turmoil, population growth, and unsustainable economic policies have left Yemen with very limited infrastructure. This has limited the scale and cost to physically rebuild affected areas. While environmental disasters tend to degrade and affect national or regional infrastructure, the 2008 storm and flooding in Yemen was also a “productive-social disaster”. The storm significantly undermined already poor socio-economic productivity in a country that has faced extreme water and food scarcity for years.

The 2008 tropical storm and subsequent flooding in Yemen shows that only addressing infrastructure shortfalls in affected areas will produce a limited effect in terms of overall recovery. Producing positive outcome in similar events in the future will be contingent upon mobilizing national and international resources that can alleviate socio-economic losses and declines in productivity associated with an adverse natural event.

The Yemen experience highlights the challenges that regional, national, and international recovery institutions face when dealing with a disaster event in a country with high levels of political, security, demographic, and socio-economic challenges. A key illustration of this would be the stalling of the post2008 recovery planning and funding effort as a fallout of instability and uncertain political transition that accompanied protests and unrest in Yemen and the broader Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region starting at the beginning of 2011.