November 2016 – April 2017
Alejandro Del Valle
Assistant Professor of Risk Management & Insurance
Department of Risk Management & Insurance
The World Bank
Central America is remarkably prone to disasters from adverse natural events, and such disasters exacerbate its economic vulnerability. Evidence shows that major disasters in Central America affect households negatively, especially in the form of disinvestments in human capital. Coastal forests (or mangroves) can operate as a buffer, reducing the impact of wind and coastal erosion. Mangroves can even reduce the death toll from tropical storms.
This project estimates the economic impact of tropical storms in Central America and investigates how the tropical forest can be used to mitigate the damages created by storms.
The investigators track changes in local economic activity by measuring the intensity of lights as observed from outer space. They estimate the impact of hurricanes on economic activity by combining this measure of brightness with high-resolution indexes of local destruction. These damage indexes are derived from a windstorm model specifically calibrated for Central America.
By further combining this data with high-resolution imagery of the evolution of forest cover, this research is expected to provide some of the first insights into whether deforestation leads to an increased vulnerability to hurricanes.
The World Bank Disaster Risk Financing and Insurance Program is the sponsor of this project.