It’s difficult to learn from adversity because it often results in conflict between time and political sensitivities. We start with a ‘build back better’ approach, but end up focused on ‘build back quickly.’ But if we don’t understand why buildings and systems fail when under stress from shock events, then we’ll keep making the same mistakes. What if the aviation industry simply counted accidents without understanding why they occurred? We wouldn’t accept that, and we shouldn’t accept any less from damage caused by natural hazards.
The underlying causes of damage are not always obvious – they need to be investigated further. To this end, UNOPS is introducing an Infrastructure Assessment Methodology. This will assist governments with strengthening resilience through a number of ways, including learning lessons from adversity.
The bottom line: Counting damaged buildings as a single strategy simply doesn't add up when it comes to sustaining development gains. Through our commitment to achieving resilient infrastructure outcomes and influencing the work of others, however, we can try to ensure that there are fewer damaged buildings to count.
About the author
Ian Rector is Senior Advisor for Infrastructure and Resilience for UNOPS in Asia. Over the past 30 years, he has worked in more than 40 countries on Disaster Risk Reduction for Resilience, climate change and humanitarian programmes within the UN system, and public and private sectors.