Case Studies

Sao Paulo, Brazil - Civil Defence Helps Citizens Know Their Risk

Sao Paulo, Brazil

In the state of Sao Paulo, Brazil, the Civil Defence System has taken an active role in raising awareness of disaster risk reduction and prevention, using campaigns and training opportunities to stimulate a culture of disaster resilience, with outreach to urban and rural communities.

One innovative approach, in partnership with the Department of Education, teaches students to reduce risks caused by rain events. The goal is to train 30,000 students in public schools throughout the State of Sao Paulo. A virtual game called “The Adventure” teaches students what they can do to prevent floods and other hazardous conditions brought about by rain, landslides and lightning storms.

Incheon, Korea- An Integrated Assessment Tool for Local Governments

UNISDR's Office for Northeast Asia and Global Education Training Institute (UNISDR ONEA-GETI)

Assessing disaster management and safety was not a new undertaking in Korea. The country had its own national evaluation framework and had been carrying out annual assessments since 2005. Based on the evaluations, local governments were able to recognise their strengths and weaknesses with regard to disaster risk reduction and acknowledge the importance of taking proactive measures to improve the challenges they face. However, once Korea began to actively encourage local governments to join the Making Cities Resilient Campaign, a new opportunity came to light.

Stepanavan, Armenia- City Resilience Plan a Catalyst for Change

Armenian Minister of Territorial Administration and Emergency Situations, Mr Armen Yeritsyan, urges use of World Conference for DRR in Sendai, Japan, as a springboard to future resilience. (Photo: UNISDR)

The government of Armenia assigned a high priority to disaster risk reduction and looked to improve disaster resilience at the local level, particularly in Stepanavan, one of the country’s most earthquake-prone cities, which was badly damaged in the 1988 Spitak earthquake. The magnitude 6.8 earthquake left 25,000 dead and 500,000 homeless. Almost 1,000 buildings either collapsed or had to be demolished. This experience, and a growing demand for disaster-resilient development, prompted Armenia to undertake a pilot project in Stepanavan. The goal is to replicate the project in 12 other Armenian cities.

Odisha, India - Investment in Risk Reduction Pays Off

Odisha, India

Cyclone Phalin struck the coast of the Indian State of Odisha in October 2013 and affected more than 13 million people, including almost one million who had to be evacuated. It damaged 420,000 homes and is estimated to have cost in excess of US$700 million. This figure would be higher if not for Odisha's strong disaster management record, according to a leading urban activist based in the State capital of Bhubaneswar, pointing to the need to continue developing policy, technical and institutional capacities and mechanisms for disaster risk management, with a disaster risk reduction perspective.

Dr Piyush Ranjan Rout, who is the co-founder and executive director of the Local Governments Network and an advocate for the Making Cities Resilient Campaign, said the focus on accountability and reducing disaster risk avoided an even worse outcome. "Most of our towns are part of the UNISDR Campaign and the successful management of [Cyclone] Phalin highlighted the effectiveness of investments made over the last ten years. However, the still exorbitant economic losses experienced indicate strongly that in the future, both the national and state governments have to focus more on reducing economic exposure."

Can Tho, Vietnam - Deployment of the CityStrength Diagnostic


With a population of 1.25 million, Can Tho is the largest city in the Mekong Delta and the fourth largest city in Vietnam.
Can Tho is dealing with chronic seasonal flooding, periodic flood disasters, riverbank erosion, saltwater intrusion, possible land subsidence, economic transition, and rapid urbanization. The city is also aware of challenges that lay on the horizon like sea level rise, a labor force that is unprepared for high-technology industry and an urban population that expects high-quality urban infrastructure and services from its government.
The CityStrength Diagnostic was conducted in Can Tho, Vietnam in June 2014 at the request of the city. A team of specialists from the World Bank Group worked with local officials, technical staff and other stakeholders to identify priorities for investment and appropriate areas for action to help build resilience in Can Tho.

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia - Deployment of the CityStrength Diagnostic

Addis Ababa

Addis Ababa is the capital of Ethiopia, home to 25% of the country’s urban population (approximately 3.6 million) and is one of the fastest growing cities in Africa. The city is located in the central part of the country at an altitude of 2300 meters.
The primary shocks that Addis Ababa faces are floods, urban fires and earthquakes. At the same time, the city faces a multitude of stresses, many of which are directly related to its current level of development, including unprecedented urban growth, water scarcity, unemployment, and social vulnerability.
In February 2015, Addis Ababa invited a team of specialists from the World Bank Group to implement the CityStrength Diagnostic in close collaboration with local officials, technical staff and other key stakeholders. The CityStrength Diagnostic methodology facilitates a dialogue among stakeholders about risks in their city and the performance of urban systems. It helps identify priority actions and investments that will enhance the city’s resilience as well as increase the resilience-building potential of planned and aspirational projects.

New Orleans – Resilience Strategy

New Orleans

New Orleans, USA is a city located on the Gulf Coast of Louisiana. The municipal population of 380,000 is governed by the City Council and Mayor’s office. In 2005 New Orleans was devastated by Hurricane Katrina, resulting in flooding of an estimated 80% of the city. The City’s recovery from the storm demonstrated their inherent resilience and capacity to bounce back with demonstrable improvements in economic resilience, strong leadership capacity, and resource commitment to the environment. However, many stresses that faced the city prior to Hurricane Katrina persisted, and have been coupled with growing inequality.

The BIG U - New York City

New York

Lower Manhattan, New York City is home to approximately 220,000 people. This area contains some of the largest central business districts in the country, which are at the core of an economy with an annual GDP of approximately $500 billion, influencing economic activity throughout the world. More than 52 million visitors annually come to Lower Manhattan to see sites as the 9/11 memorial, Wall Street, Battery Park and take ferries to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. The Lower Manhattan area also contains 35,000 affordable housing units, many of which were hit hard by Hurricane Sandy, and over 94,000 of the residents in this area are low-income, elderly, and/or disabled. The most vulnerable of the population live along the East River.

Following the devastating impacts of Hurricane Sandy in 2012, the city was challenged to create protection for Lower Manhattan to ensure that New York City’s financial district and other key infrastructure can operate during and after a storm while maintaining and enhancing, local residents’ connection to the waterfront. Flood protection would be designed to enhance everyday life and address existing social, economic and health challenges.

Rotterdam – Creating an Office of Resilience


Rotterdam, Netherlands is a City located in Southern Holland. The municipal population of 620,000 is split into 14 boroughs, governed centrally by a city council, currently headed by Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb. Rotterdam has achieved a high level of success in developing best-in-class climate adaptation and water management strategies to address the threats of sea-level rise and pluvial flooding inherent in their unique geography and morphology. The City is currently striving to link these achievements with strategies for addressing other risks and in particular emerging social cohesion challenges.

Addressing the shocks and stresses with innovative and integrated solutions required a new direction and vision for resilience that would build off of the City’s recognized leadership in water and climate risk resilience.