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< prev - next > Disaster response mitigation and rebuilding Reconstruction pcr_tool_1_an_introduction (Printable PDF)
Understanding PCR
How long does reconstruction take?
After a disaster strikes, a small proportion of
people- usually the ones with more resources or
less losses - manage to recover within a few months
to a year. The bulk of the people though tend to
recover their most important assets, including
permanent housing, within 12 to 36 months after a
disaster. But for those who lost most of their assets
or have more constraints to overcome, it may take
four, five, or even more years. The recovery pattern
after disasters thus follows an S-curve, as shown to
the right.
Disasters of large magnitude attract worldwide
attention and funding. Whilst much of this is for
immediate relief, increasing proportions of aid
are now being used for longer-term recovery and
reconstruction. Humanitarian agencies, however,
are often under a lot of pressure to achieve quick
results and therefore reluctant to stay on for much
more than three years.
This may leave those who are struggling to
recover and perhaps most in need of support -
typically often including the landless, disabled or
tenants - deprived of it. Agencies adopting PCR will
have to commit themselves to work with affected
communities for the medium term, to address
housing problems and reduce the vulnerabilities of
all members.
What about small-scale disasters?
In between the occasional large-scale disasters
which get the majority of media coverage, a
multitude of smaller disasters are affecting poor
people worldwide on a daily basis. These however,
rarely make the headlines. Such disasters attract
little external help; the affected rely mostly on
community resources and traditional knowledge
for their recovery. Communities that are regularly
Graph showing post-tsunami reconstruction in Aceh and Nias,
after “Building Back Better: Delivering people-centred housing
reconstruction at scale”, Practical Action Publishing,
Rugby, 2010, p. 154.
affected by disasters such as floods, or under threat
of slow-onset environmental disasters often take
steps by themselves to reduce their vulnerabilities
and minimise loss of assets. This can work well in
stable communities, usually in rural areas. In the
event of small to medium disasters, even small PCR
projects with limited external resources can still be
quite effective, to increase awareness of disaster
mitigation and preparedness, address underlying
vulnerabilities, identify and strengthen traditional
skills and coping mechanisms, and ultimately
support people to rebuild.
Reconstruction in an urban setting
Post-disaster reconstruction in urban areas has
proven to be particularly challenging because
communities are less stable; people have lost
traditional skills or access to traditional resources
and they often lack secure tenure and face a
multitude of regulations. Many of these challenges
have been overcome in normal urban housing or
upgrading projects and programmes, from which
Rural residents of Gaibandha district in
Northern Bangladesh get flooded every few years
Slum in Mavoko, 30 Km to the East of Nairobi, Kenya, with
houses built of waste materials, and hardly any infrastructure