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CHARLOTTE, NC: September 01, 2019. A report from the World Bank says the net benefit in investing in more resilient infrastructure in low- and middle-income countries would be US$4.2 trillion with US$4 in benefit for each US$1 invested.

The report, produced in conjunction with the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery, examines four essential infrastructure systems: power, water and sanitation, transport, and telecommunications.

As was shown in Puerto Rico when over 3,000 died as a result of Hurricane Maria, a resilient infrastructure not only avoids costly repairs but also minimizes the wide-ranging impact on people.

Outages or disruptions to power, water, communication and transport affect the productivity of firms, the incomes and jobs they provide, as well as directly impacting people’s quality of life and contributing to the spread of cholera, says the study.

“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,” comments 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 World Bank says the direct damage by natural disasters to power generation and transport infrastructure for low- and middle-income countries is US$18 billion a year. However, factor in the impact of poor maintenance and infrastructure mismanagement and the cost to households and rms rises to at least US$390 billion a year.

“For infrastructure investors – whether governments, development banks or the private sector – it is clear that investing in resilient infrastructure is both sound and pro table,” explains John Roome, World Bank senior director Climate Change. “It is not about spending more, but about spending better.”

Drawing from a wide range of case studies, global empirical analyses, and modeling exercises, the report finds Africa and South Asia bear the highest losses from unreliable infrastructure:

In Kampala, Uganda even moderate floods block enough streets to make it impossible for over a third of the residents to reach a hospital; in Tanzania, companies incur losses of US$668 million a year from power and water outages while half the transport disruptions due to flooding cost more than US$100 million per year; and in China 64 million people are dependent on waste water treatment plants that are exposed to earthquake and soil liquefaction risks, and almost 200 million are dependent on treatment plants that will be exposed to increasing ood risks due to climate change.

The report offers five recommendations to ensure that infrastructure systems and users become more resilient: Address poor management and governance of infrastructure systems; build institutions for resilience; include resilience in regulations and incentives; improve decision- making; and provide financing.

‘It is cheaper and easier to build resilience if we look beyond individual assets, like bridges or electric poles, and understand the vulnerabilities of systems and users,” explains Stephane Hallegatte, lead author of the report. “By doing so, entire systems can be better designed and with greater flexibility so that damages are localised and do not spread through entire networks, crippling economies at large.”

US billionaire supporter of climate deniers David Koch died on August 23 as the eleventh-richest man in the world with a net worth of US$50 billion. However his singular greed, and success in blocking meaningful climate legislation, leaves a legacy that will see an increasing number of US citizens becoming refugees in their own country as they flee from the desertification of their farmland, or from homes destroyed by catastrophic flooding.

In a resilience report on the aftermath of Hurricane Florence published in July this year, Zurich Insurance predicts the centre of Wilmington in North Carolina, population 120,000, will be flooded 78 days a year after 2030 – making it increasingly uninhabitable. At the moment the Port of Wilmington contributes US687 million in annual tax revenues and employs 59,000 people in the state.

The World Bank infrastructure resilience report preceded the potential impact of another US hurricane season as Hurricane Dorian tracked northwards from the Caribbean, passing Puerto Rico on August 27.

As the UN Special Rapporteur Philip Alston noted in his June report on extreme poverty: “The United States is one of the world’s richest, most powerful and technologically innovative countries; but neither its wealth nor its power nor its technology is being harnessed to address the situation which 40 million people continue to live in poverty.”

-Simon Keeble