For example, a programme of desilting traditional water tanks in India (rather than creating a dam) was a flexible, robust and ‘low-regrets’ decision to address the risk of water scarcity. Comparatively, desilting the water tanks is cheaper, and if the shock does not materialise there will be a benefit to local livelihoods as desilting increases access to surface and groundwater, which can improve agricultural production and increase incomes.
Flexible, robust and low-regrets decisions are particularly important in low-income countries with limited resources. Not all actions can be flexible, robust and low-regrets, but each help to address the uncertainty in forecasts. Forecasts can trigger early action, which is much more effective than acting after a disaster has occurred.
Careful planning is required to adapt to the increasing risk of disasters
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted that a prepared and timely response to disasters is essential. Their impact on health and health systems can be devastating, and with factors such as climate change, conflict and displacement, the risk and uncertainty of disasters is growing. Although risk and uncertainty are complex, decision-makers in all sectors need to work with communities on the ground and enable cross-society preparedness to help reduce the impact of disasters.
The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of The Health Policy Partnership.