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Collaborative Workshop on Disasters, Poverty and Development Organized at JICA-RI

October 13, 2011

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(from left) Albert Park, Francois Bourguignon, Ilan Noy, Jonathan Morduch, Yasuyuki Sawada


On October 3, a workshop titled: Disasters, Poverty, and Development was held at JICA-RI. The event, hosted by the University of Tokyo, along with JICA-RI and Hitotsubashi University, was convened to offer a learning opportunity on the latest macro and micro economic studies over impacts of diverse disasters on people’s welfare and coping measures.

The Great East-Japan Earthquake and resulting tsunamis made us realize that human efforts are far from enough against catastrophic disasters. In fact, our lives are threatened by both natural and man-made disasters (economic crises, technological accidents and others) and the poor are most vulnerable under such situation. It is critical that the international community quickly designs effective counter-disaster mechanisms in order to reduce the risks of serious social and economic consequences.

In the beginning, JICA-RI Director Akio Hosono introduced JICA’s approach on disaster risk reduction. By explaining JICA’s different examples of operations conducted with this approach in the world, Hosono showed how committed JICA is to this cause and it will remain so in the coming years. 

Following Hosono’s presentation, Francois Bourguignon, director of the Paris School of Economics and former chief economist of the World Bank gave a keynote lecture “Development Aid as Insurance.” After reviewing aid effectiveness debates, he proposed a new angle to consider aid as “insurance” for the poor in case of disasters. He named several schemes as useful mechanisms for the above purpose while pointed out that they should be complementarily to other measures.

The rest of the workshop was spent to present scores of disaster-related research results by seven leading economists in this field: Associate Professor Yasuyuki Sawada (the University of Tokyo and JICA-RI’s visiting fellow); Associate Professor Ilan Noy (University of Hawaii, Manoa); Chair Professor Albert Park (Hong Kong University of Science and Technology); Professor Sangui Wang (Renmin University of China); Professor Yoshito Takasaki (University of Tsukuba); Professor Takashi Kurosaki (Hitotsubashi University and research director at the Center for Economic Institutions); and Professor Jonathan Morduch (New York University).

Sawada provided the taxonomy of disasters and showed trends of different disasters. Other researchers discussed diverse topics: from the impacts of disasters on economic growth; the influences of Sichuan Earthquake on children; to the resilience of poor households against natural disasters in Pakistan.    

After the workshop, Director Bourguignon said, “It was an excellent idea as it touched upon the significant issue of disasters, and natural disasters particularly have devastating effect on the growth of developing countries.” He also indicated that innovative insurance instruments are emerging but we should understand the constraints which prevent further development of such theoretically appealing programs.


François Bourguignon
Paris School of Economics

DayOctober 03, 2011(Mon)
PlaceJICA Research Institute
OrganizerUniversity of Tokyo, Hitotsubashi University and JICA-Research Institute

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