Safer Self-Recovery: Promoting Resilient Urban Reconstruction after Disasters
Building collapse is a major cause of injury, trauma and death in disasters, with over five million homes worldwide destroyed or damaged each year on average. Housing reconstruction is central to family and community recovery from disasters, as well as presenting an opportunity to ‘build back better’ and ensure homes are more resilient than before. However, most disaster-affected families ‘self-recover’: that is, they rebuild their homes with little or no external support. Humanitarian agencies’ shelter assistance rarely reaches more than 20% of affected households. The remainder, lacking resources and technical skills, often rebuild housing that is unsafe. This is a particular concern in towns and cities in lower income countries, where disaster risk is on the increase due to population growth, high population density, poverty, inadequate infrastructure and services, urban expansion into hazard-prone areas, and limited municipal government capacity.
Housing (or shelter) self-recovery has not been researched extensively, and interest in the subject is relatively new. This project, a collaboration between the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), CARE International, University College London, the British Geological Survey and Loughborough University, brings social scientists, engineers, geoscientists and humanitarian practitioners together to understand the factors that affect households’ recovery and reconstruction decision-making. In a previous NERC-funded GCRF project, recently completed, the team studied self-recovery choices and pathways in rural districts in the Philippines after Typhoons Haiyan (2013) and Haima (2016) and Nepal after the Gorkha earthquake (2015). The research uncovered a complex mix of economic, social, cultural, environmental and governance influences on disaster-affected families’ options and choices, demonstrating the challenges to promoting safer building practices in reconstruction.
Principal Investigator: Dr John Twigg, Overseas Development Institute
Co-Investigators: Dr Susanne Sargeant, British Geological Survey; Professor Tiziana Rossetto, University College London