Global Program for Resilient Housing


Global Program for Resilient Housing

Mismatches Climate change
Policies and regulations Data and monitoring Evaluation and impact
Promotion and production Innovation

Main objectives of the project

In the past 25 years, disasters have taken 1.3 million lives, with poor households in weak housing hit hardest. The Global Program for Resilient Housing identifies at-risk homes using technology and machine learning, facilitating retrofits through subsidies and private investment. This strategy helps governments save lives, protect investments, and strengthen economies by making housing more resilient to natural hazards.


  • 2022: Implementation


  • World Bank




Over the past 25 years, natural disasters have claimed 1.3 million lives and caused extensive damage globally. From earthquakes in Latin America to cyclones in Southeast Asia, these events can strike any country, disproportionately affecting families in substandard housing.

The frequency, severity, and fatality of these disasters are increasing, particularly impacting the poor. Substandard housing with weak construction is especially vulnerable, leading to walls collapsing, roofs being torn off, and structures failing. The World Bank’s Unbreakable report highlights that the impacts of disasters and climate change are over twice as severe for poor households compared to others, as they often reside in the most vulnerable areas with weak housing standards and limited access to credit or insurance.

Enhancing the safety and resilience of housing can protect lives and livelihoods, contributing to sustainable communities. According to the World Bank’s Lifelines report, investing in resilient infrastructure in developing countries yields a net benefit of $4.2 trillion over the lifetime of new infrastructure, with a $4 return for every $1 invested. However, creating a comprehensive strategy for resilient housing presents significant technological and policy challenges.

The Global Program for Resilient Housing has developed a methodology to predict which houses are at the highest risk from natural hazards, identify which can be made safe in time, and connect them with government subsidies and private capital.

As housing resilience becomes a central part of strategies for governments and development institutions, the Global Program for Resilient Housing can help countries and cities secure economic investment, support local construction industries, spare communities from disaster trauma, and most importantly, save lives, all at a fraction of the cost and time.

The process involves five steps:

Step 1: Neighborhoods and houses in cities and communities are mapped using advanced technologies such as drones, street cameras, and machine learning algorithms.

Step 2: Engineers use machine learning to train computers to extract critical information—such as building materials, height, window count, and garage door openings—from images of the mapped areas. This information helps identify potentially vulnerable structures at risk of endangering families.

Step 3: The data is aggregated into a one-stop housing portal containing actionable knowledge for designing and implementing housing plans and activating construction, credit, and insurance markets. The Program team identifies areas of greatest risk, homes needing relocation, houses requiring detailed study, and structures suitable for cost-effective retrofitting.

Step 4: With actionable knowledge, policymakers can design housing subsidy programs to connect affected families with local construction or financial institutions or leverage World Bank loans to maximize finance for resilient housing. Retrofitting supports small and medium-sized construction and financial companies and offers families affordable alternatives to unsafe homes or relocating to unfamiliar areas. The Program adapts international best practices to local contexts to avoid common pitfalls.

Step 5: The Program team supports governments in promoting resilient housing to save lives, protect assets, and shield economies from increasing disaster risks.

Resilient housing offers a way to protect homes from natural hazards. The Program helps quantify the benefits of resilient housing, conducts rapid economic analyses to justify investments, and collaborates with countries, banks, and financial institutions to develop home improvement subsidy policies based on best practices.

This approach appeals to both housing ministers, who respond to disasters, and finance ministers, who fund reconstruction. They recognize that every dollar invested in strengthening infrastructure beforehand can save $10 in reconstruction costs. The program promotes home improvement initiatives that make resilience a central strategy.

Resilient housing safeguards family investments, which is crucial given that up to 90% of a family's life savings are typically invested in their home.