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Building Resilience in a Disaster-Prone Island

The recent high costs associated with recovering from major natural disasters across the globe underscore the need to invest in and strengthen economic and social resilience within communities. Resilience enables communities to development mechanisms to protect against harmful shocks and stressors and therefore recover faster in the aftermath of a disaster. Resilience can be improved by evaluating the presence and strength of certain protective factors, identifying weaknesses, and implementing policies aimed to strengthen these vulnerabilities prior to the next disaster.

In 2019, Econsult Solutions, Inc. (ESI) was engaged by a small, disaster-prone island economy to profile and measure its resilience across various sectors including health, economy, education, arts and culture, and housing. These assessments detailed each sector’s capacity, capability, and structure as it relates to its ability to respond to natural shocks and stressors.

For each sector, the ESI team evaluated key factors that contributed to its overall health in order to identify any points of weakness that could reduce resilience. Once these profiles were developed, the team evaluated the effect of a potential natural disaster on each sector through an analysis of the current state of the sector’s protective factors. After these scenarios were developed, the team advanced practical recommendations on ways in which the local government could bolster these underlying factors in order to build resilience.

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