This blog post was written in collaboration with Evie Calcutt and Simon Hagemann.


The World Bank’s Crisis and Disaster Risk Finance unit organized the webinar on Disaster risk finance for better response to COVID-19 and other risks on 11 August 2020. The 26th webinar of the Social protection responses to COVID-19 series was developed in cooperation with the platform and supported by the Centre for Disaster Protection.

The webinar discussed the links between disaster risk finance (DRF) and social protection in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. It highlighted how a DRF approach to social protection, using principles from financing in the private sector, supports countries to better plan for and financially respond to shocks. Panelists outlined key lessons from shock responsive social protection programs and explained how these lessons could inform a response to the compounding effects of COVID-19 and other disasters.

The webinar was moderated by Evie Calcutt and Simon Hagemann – Financial Sector Specialists in the World Bank’s Crisis and Disaster Risk Finance Unit, based in London and Washington DC respectively. The panel featured presentations from:

  • Olivier Mahul – World Bank Group, Practice Manager of the Crisis and Disaster Risk Finance Unit
  • Emma Mistiaen – World Bank Group, Senior Social Protection Specialist
  • Lindsey Paul Jones – World Bank Group, Senior Risk Monitoring and Analytics Specialist for the Global Crisis Risk Platform
  • Sophie Evans – Centre for Disaster Protection, Risk, Climate and Innovative Financing Specialist

The recording of the webinar is available here and the presentations can be found here. You can also stay connected with the Crisis and Disaster Risk Finance unit by joining their community of practice here


DRF to strengthen financial Resilience - Olivier Mahul

Olivier Mahul started out by emphasizing the importance of disaster risk finance in the broader resilience agenda, particularly in the context of the COVID-19 health and economic crisis, growing climatic change, and recent events such as the 2019/2020 locust outbreak in East Africa and cyclones in the Pacific. He stressed the negative impact of disasters on public finances, external trade balance and poverty reduction with recent figures and country examples. He described how DRF solutions can build a comprehensive approach to resilience by reducing risk and preventing disasters (physical resilience), helping households and society cope with shocks (social resilience), whilst focusing on protecting the fiscal balance and the economy through pre-arranged funding (financial resilience).


DRF for shock responsive SP, to better plan and respond to shocks - Evie Calcutt and Simon Hagemann

Simon Hagemann gave a general overview of the concept and value of DRF, which helps governments, businesses and individuals increase the speed, predictability and effectiveness of disaster response and recovery through pre-arranged financing and pre-agreed distribution channels. He highlighted the core principles, success factors and main benefits of the approach. In particular, he shared evidence on how early response and financial preparedness to shocks and disasters can pre-empt negative coping strategies from households and governments, reduce the cost of response and lead to positive macro-economic impacts.

Evie Calcutt then discussed the World Bank experience with shock responsive social protection (SRSP). SRSP can scale up to reach more people (vertical expansion) and/or deliver more assistance (horizontal expansion) following a disaster. Applying a DRF approach to SRSP allows to provide timely assistance to affected communities, either as soon as possible following a shock, or sometimes even before communities are severely affected, for example, thanks to satellite-based triggers. She described the World Bank’s methodology for designing SRSP programs in six steps and highlighted some of the lessons learned from past experiences, including from the COVID-19 crisis: the use of data and analytic to understand the potential cost, the importance of pre-planning DRF instruments to ensure that funds are available when they are needed, the need to design an efficient way to channel the assistance to affected populations, such as a digital registry of a beneficiary, cash-transfers by mobile phones and other digital technologies.


DRF for shock responsive SP in Kenya & Senegal - Emma Mistiaen

Emma Mistiaen shared the World Bank experience with SRSP operations in Kenya and Senegal as well as with future programs in six countries of the Sahel. She described the key pillars of SRSP systems, such as ensuring government leadership and ownership, defining institutional arrangements and clearances, ensuring information flows timely, designing program and systems in advance, ensuring preplanned finance for a speedy response. She then highlighted some of the key lessons learned so far: (i) investments up front in the delivery systems is critical, (ii) having a social registry in place helps ensure a fast response, (iii) objective and automatic triggers can enable a speedy response, (iv) having a DRF Strategy in place helps ensure adequate funding. She concluded by describing how these SRSP systems were used by the government during the COVID-19 crisis to target beneficiaries of food distribution programs or other response mechanisms.


Risk monitoring to support better preparedness - Lindsey Paul Jones

Lindsey Jones elaborated on the issue of compound risks, i.e. the interaction between two or more disasters, such as COVID-19 with seasonal weather-related shocks such as drought or flooding. He shared insights on the ongoing work of the World Bank’s Global Crisis Risk Platform (GCRP) on understanding and tracking compound risks. The GCRP is currently setting up a monitoring tool based on a set of indicators, whose objective is to locate ongoing compound risks, to help predict future ones, and to bring awareness to stakeholders. With regards to social protection, the monitoring tool could help influence the delivery of existing SP initiatives and affect the need for designing new ones, as effective tracking of compound risk can improve targeting and prioritization of SP systems (both spatial and temporal).


Tracking funding flows to understand the equity of coverage - Sophie Evans

Sophie Evans described the ongoing work of the Centre for Disaster Protection (CDP) on monitoring humanitarian funding flows. Over the past few months, the CDP has been tracking disbursements and debt relief from the World Bank, IMF, the UN and regional banks, to assess what is working and what could be improved. She shared the latest findings of the work and highlighted key lessons. Figures shown during the presentation highlighted that commitments have been mobilized quickly relative to the economic impact of COVID-19 and that disbursement is also proceeding fast. However, since funds have been based on economic losses, the poor are receiving less, which further exacerbates their situation.  


The webinar concluded with an interesting Q&A session, accessible here. You can also join the Q&A discussion here.


This blog post summarises the twenty-sixth webinar of the “Social protection responses to COVID-19” webinar series. The series is a joint effort initiated by the IPC-IGGIZ on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), and the Australia Government's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) collaboration with the platform, and in cooperation with partners from different organisations. Join the online community ''Social protection responses to COVID-19 [Task force]'' to learn more about the initiative and future webinars.

Social Protection Building Blocks: 
  • Policy
    • Expenditure and financing
Cross-Cutting Areas: 
  • Disaster risk management / reduction
  • Resilience
  • Kenya
  • Senegal
  • Global
The views presented here are the author's and not's