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< prev - next > Disaster response mitigation and rebuilding Reconstruction pcr_tool_2_resources (Printable PDF)
Joseph Mhamgara standing between the foundations of a
demonstration house he is being trained to build in Epworth,
Zimbabwe. He was selected by the community as beneficiary,
because he is an orphan and looks after two younger siblings.
Sources of Information
Practitioners looking for information to support
communities in their recovery and reconstruction
have three main sources of information:
Institutions in the same country, but outside the
affected communities
Published information
Electronic information
Some nationally specific information will be
required in most cases; this could include baseline
information and statistics of various types (e.g.
on poverty, livelihoods, family sizes, construction,
building materials production); housing or building
laws, codes, standards and procedures; financial
and credit options and procedures; and cultural
norms and practices. This often is not available in
any great detail at the local level nor electronically.
Practitioners could obtain this from specialist
agencies, e.g. a National Bureau of Statistic or
National Bureau of Standards, but this is time
consuming. It pays off for reconstruction agencies
to get together and pool their information into a
joint data base, accessible to all, especially after
large-scale disasters, or establish other forms of
information sharing, such as coordination meetings
or forums.
Published information can come in a variety of
formats, e.g. books, manuals, technical leaflets or
newsletters. This tool will only consider published
information that is available in the public domain,
though often at a price; it excludes information
published by agencies for use by their own staff
only. There is often a limit as to the number of
publications that practitioners can carry to their
project sites, or get sent there, so they will have to
be selective.
Electronic information is nowadays becoming
increasingly important, as there is so much of
it, whilst it permits users to search for what they
specifically need. Laptop computers have become
essential pieces of equipment for practitioners,
which allow them to tap into a vast amount of
information, provided they can connect to the
internet. The most important electronic sources
include websites, DVDs, CD-ROMs and electronic
communities of practices or discussion forums;
e.g. Googlegroups on specific topics have become
among the most effective and far-reaching tools to
exchange knowledge.
Accessing and selecting information
There is now so much information on reconstruction
in the public domain that it can be difficult
for practitioners to find what they are looking
for. Another problem is that not all accessible
information is of an adequate quality. Practitioners
can assess the quality of the information at hand,
e.g. by:
Ensuring it is from a reputable source, with
experience on the subject;
Recommendations for searching electronic
1. Resources in which the information has
already been structured and organised
are easier to search in than unstructured
information. This could be in some form of
database. If keywords are provided in the
form of a drop-down menu, use these in
preference to general search conditions.
2. For general web searches with search
engines, use the ‘exact phrase’ option, as this
would select the most relevant options. Using
Google as the search engine, an exact phrase
can be entered within parentheses with the
Simple Search or in the Exact Phrase Box use
Advanced Search.
3. Enter descriptive terms for the information
you are looking for in the search boxes of
the search engine. Avoid ambiguous terms
such as ‘development’, ‘participation’ or
‘community’ and try to use words with a
narrow meaning. Try to formulate information
searches as questions you are seeking to
4. Use other sources, such as annotated lists of
websites, to give direction on which websites
to visit.
5. Consult
This is a guideline on how to search
websites for information on healthcare in the
United States. It contains demonstrations
and tutorial exercises. Even though the
instructional information concerns healthcare,
most of it is relevant for searching on other
topics as well.