Why the Disasterrisk.af platform?

Reliable risk information is critical for resilient development planning, public policy and investments. This is especially critical in Afghanistan, where disasters caused by natural hazards have affected nine million people and inflicted more than 20,000 fatalities since 1980. However, high levels of poverty, fragility and conflict make it challenging to collect risk information and build resilience in the country.

When the World Bank's South Asia Disaster Risk Management (DRM) and Climate Change team started working in Afghanistan, very little information was available on hazards and risk. In 2018, with support from the Global Facility for Disaster Risk Reduction and Recovery and the Government of Japan, the team set out to produce basic information essential to DRM. They developed innovations for visualization and cost-benefit analysis on top of a standard GeoNode, which have enabled Afghanistan's planning processes to incorporate disaster considerations.

Video overview of the World Bank's DRM Program in Afghanistan:

Multi-hazard risk assessment for Afghanistan

The Multi-Hazard Risk Assessment (MHRA) and the Afghanistan Risk profiles are the first of its kind in a fragile state and have already contributed to raise awareness on current and future disaster risks in Afghanistan. Risk assessment is the first step in the creation of an effective Disaster Risk Management policy. The MHRA contains risk analyses of floods, droughts, landslides, avalanches and earthquakes. Policy makers, government counterparts, partner organizations and agencies for the first time have access to comprehensive and critical risk information. These tools are now helping the government to better understand the country's exposure to multiple natural hazards and take proactive measures to strengthen preparedness to avoid further pressures. The results of the risk assessment have been visualized, for ease of reference, in the Afghanistan Risk Profile and the online geospatial Afghanistan Disaster Risk Info GeoNode. The MHRA was adopted by the Government of Afghanistan in December 2018 in Washington DC.

What is Geonode and why are we using it

The GeoNode is a public platform that allows users to create, share and access geospatial data and maps for decision-making about disaster risk in Afghanistan. It is a webGIS tool that allows for the uploading, visualization, query and creation of map visualizations of a number of different GIS layers, including the multi hazard risk analysis layers, but also infrastructure data from projects such as OpenStreetMap and other background data such administrative boundaries.

Targeted capacity building efforts for Afghan officials have allowed users to: (i) map out risks in open data format; (ii) possibility to zoom in on specific geographic locations to assess risks; (iii) provides cost-benefit analysis for floods and earthquakes and; (iv) inform Bank operations and overall development planning.

To facilitate these objectives, the GeoNode allows users to share, visualize and download maps and GIS layers in formats that can be reused in off-the shelf GIS software both free and proprietary. GeoNode is a free and open source software, meaning anyone can download and install it and create their own webGIS instance. In the case of disasterrisk.af the web platform relies on GeoNode technology, and has been developed and produced with support from GFDRR of the WB.

For more information on GeoNode and other projects using it, see here:

Success stories of GeoNode use in AF

The Multi-Hazard Risk Assessment has been used to integrate risk considerations into development planning, public policy and investments in assuring the resilience of new and existing reconstruction to natural hazards and climate change, which are critical to secure both lives and livelihoods. The Government of Afghanistan has been mainstreaming DRM across key sectors in its World Bank's investment portfolio to strengthen resilience in the following sectors:

Training and Sustainability Efforts

The World Bank has provided training on the use of GeoNode to over 80 key GoA staff comprising 7 national agencies. From the trainings, however, a number of lessons have been learned: all trainees shared a very limited DRM capacity and according to them, DRM principles are not incorporated or mainstreamed at any of the agencies or ministries in a significant manner. Similarly, there are no guidelines or protocols for incorporating DRM principles or performance measurements into project planning and design. Finally, there seems to be very little DRM-related coordination between GoA agencies and Ministries.

To narrow these gaps, and with support of the Bank team, more targeted training and a pilot dedicated resource center for continued in-house technical expertise has been established at MRRD. The center, which is being leveraged to support CCAP, consists of a GIS/DRM service center to support feasibility studies, hazard and vulnerability mapping and provides inputs into planning and in the context of World Bank Group projects. The center is providing recommendations to MRRD on how to most effectively incorporate DRM across its governance and program structure. Discussions with MRRD are ongoing to sustain the services provided by the center in the long-run and beyond CCAP. With help of the resource center, MRRD officials have trained over 4,500 communities in DRM.

A broader strategy to replicate these efforts in other GoA agencies is ongoing as well as discussions for a partial, and eventually a full transition of the GeoNode.