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Assessments for Disaster Response & Early Recovery

Bridging Response And Early Recovery

The following is based on Post-Disaster Recovery Guidelines prepared by the United Nations Development Programme - Bureau for Crisis Prevention & Recovery -Disaster Reduction Unit

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By definition early recovery means: to take decisions and actions after a disaster with a view to restoring or improving the pre-disaster living conditions of the stricken community, while encouraging and facilitating necessary adjustments to reduce disaster risk.

In practice, this involves the following.

  • Recognizing gaps between response and recovery.

    • Emergency relief does not address the underlying causes that resulted in the disaster, nor does it automatically stimulate rapid recovery. In a number of situations response may even exacerbate the underlying causes of vulnerability.

    • A gap between the ending of humanitarian assistance and the initiation of reconstruction programming in which affected people are usually left without support for recovery

    • Rebuilding the conditions of risk which existed before the disaster, thus preparing the ground for future disasters and possibly contributing to increase the country's debt levels with large reconstruction loans.

    • Isolated and uncoordinated interventions, leading to a duplication of efforts in some areas, gaps in others and again a failure to factor in risk reduction considerations.

    • Rapid and visible solutions to restore normalcy, frequently at the cost of more sustainable and durable solutions that truly address the root causes of the disaster.

  • Supporting the development of a recovery framework as early as possible following the disaster (e.g., through information gathering, expanded consultation on relief/response priorities and decision making).

Sectors typically addressed in a recovery framework are the following.

    • Rehabilitation/recovery of built environment and local infrastructure Rehabilitation of damaged infrastructure should be seen as an opportunity to reduce the development deficit, to fulfil unmet needs and development objectives and to reduce disaster risk.

    • Employment and livelihoods Recovery programmes should contribute to improve the living conditions of the affected population. Specific issues that may need addressing:

      • Agriculture and livestock production, through the provision of seeds, tools, micro- credits, and other means

      • Small business through the provision of credits or other means

      • Recovery of and improvement of productive social infrastructure such as roads, markets, etc. which will support the economic activities

      • The reconstruction of the housing sector using local technologies, construction materials, local know-how, to ensure that construction activities will have a direct positive impact upon the local economy.

      • Consideration of short-term gender sensitive alternative employment generation to compensate lost livelihoods in the immediate post-disaster period.

    • Primary infrastructure and lifeline facilities
      The rapid rehabilitation of primary infrastructure such as primary roads, bridges, water supply and sanitation systems, primary power generation and distribution facilities, irrigation and agricultural facilities, health, education and other social facilities, can contribute to a swift restoration and development of the affected region. The key for an effective rehabilitation programme is an accurate and thorough damage assessment, which will provide the necessary information on why this infrastructure was damaged or destroyed and will determine the modality of including risk reduction in their rehabilitation and reconstruction.

    • Environmental and water resources management The cause-effect relationship between environmental degradation, poverty and disasters is complex and has been the subject of many studies. The continuous degradation of highly sensitive ecosystems leads to the increased occurrence and magnitude of landslides and floods with major physical, economic and social consequences. Thus, recovery should be used as an opportunity to enhance the management of water and environmental resources in order to reduce one of the major causes of future disasters. Several environmental restoration activities are, by their nature, significant contributors to reducing disaster risk and must be seriously taken into consideration in recovery planning. Some of these include cleaning of watersheds and reforestation programmes.

    • Housing Housing rehabilitation/reconstruction is a key element in closing the gap between emergency relief and sustainable recovery. It restores people's sense of normalcy and is a first step towards reactivating the productive economy. Building the capacity of local authorities to promote, supervise and guide planning and construction processes is key for a successful and sustainable reconstruction process. Local authorities should be enabled to set up legislative and regulatory frameworks to promote local initiatives and local involvement in planning and construction issues. In defining the strategy for the housing sector, the following issues may arise:

  • Land and property issues

  • Financing

  • Regulatory framework and institutional capacity building

  • Labour and implementation

  • Technology

  • Architectural design

  • Construction materials

  • Building codes and practices

  • Improving safety standards by locating in low risk areas.

    • Resettlement of families Often, in the aftermath of a disaster, there is a growing concern among experts and government officials to promote a safer location for settlement of people at risk. Experience shows, however, that resettlement of population on new sites is a complex issue and presents major challenges. If resettlement is being considered as an option, the following issues must be analysed.

  • A resettlement programme should go beyond the provision of housing and should address other needs of the population such as social infrastructure, livelihoods and economic activities

  • The programme needs to take into consideration the fundamental issues of disaster management and risk reduction. This requires more in-depth analysis of the new site with regard to hazards and risks. Risk mapping should be prepared prior to development of new site to avoid rebuilding risks

  • Since people have often strong economic, social and cultural reasons that influence their choice of settlement, it is important that the relocation decisions and selection of resettlement sites are made in a consultative manner with full participation of the affected communities. Communities need to be prepared and informed before they agree to accept voluntary relocation.

  • Appropriate mechanisms should be put in place to ensure secure land and housing tenure.

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