Earthquakes can cause immense damage, in severe cases resulting in collapsing structures and a high dealth toll. In a bid to better understand where earthquakes may strike, such that insurance and preparations can be made in advance, the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery has set up ThinkHazard!, an analytical tool which provides a range of data to understand the threat of earthquakes across the globe.
Natural disasters have the potential to create considerable human suffering as well as long term economic damage to affected areas and countries. The cost of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami has been estimated at $300 billion, with areas around the melt-down at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant still off limits. In 2005 Hurricane Katrina, with the inundation of New Orleans and surrounding area, caused an estimated $108 billion in economic damage and $45 billion in insurance pay-outs.
The Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) is an organisation, supported by the World Bank, that provides grant financing, on-the-ground technical assistance, and thought leadership on disaster and climate resilience issues through a range of knowledge sharing activities. One of its offerings is ThinkHazard!, an analytical tool that enables development specialists to determine, for a given project location, the potential likelihood of eight natural hazards. Understanding the relevant risks of natural disasters provides a background against which to plan for resilience projects, enhance evacuation plans and promote improved building codes.
The data sets used to populate ThinkHazard! stem from several sources, including from Aon Benfield, the risk management division of Aon. Aon Benfield provided ThinkHazard! with earthquake data sets on 31 countries, including information pertaining to 6 countries seen as priorities for the GFDRR: Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kenya, Morocco, Serbia, Turkey and Uganda. The provided data suggests which trends and probabilities relate to earthquake shaking across each country, which also is visualised through the ThinkHazard! Programme.
"ThinkHazard! is a tool that will get natural disaster information into the hands of people who really need to know. It is our duty to equip project leaders and developers with information on what hazards exist, but also with knowledge on how to make their projects resilient to all major natural hazards today and into the future", says Dr. Alanna Simpson, Senior Disaster Risk Management Specialist and Leader of GFDRR's Innovation Lab. She continues: "This tool, developed alongside our partners over the last two years, provides a one-stop-shop to inform users on the hazards within their geographic area and how to make their project resilient throughout project design and implementation."
Adam Podlaha, Global Head of Impact Forecasting at Aon Benfield, comments: "The insurance industry has traditionally focused on how we effectively react and pay claims following a disaster – using insights from catastrophe models to help prepare. Now, we have the opportunity with the World Bank to help risk reduction specialists to plan ahead. This underpins Aon's commitment for sharing data and analytics to empower communities in both preparing for catastrophes and helping to rebuild lives and livelihoods in the aftermath. It is a privilege to be part of this project.”