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An overview of post-disaster permanent housing reconstruction in developing countries
Iftekhar Ahmed
Climate Change Adaptation Programme (CCAP), Global Cities Research Institute, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia
Purpose – A set of guidelines widely agreed by the international humanitarian aid community, such as the Sphere Handbook, is currently lacking for permanent housing reconstruction in developing countries. The paper aims to address this gap by reviewing the field and presenting a set of selected examples that offer lessons for informing, developing and promoting wider good practice. Design/methodology/approach – An extensive literature review on post-disaster housing reconstruction in developing countries pointed to the significant impacts of disasters on housing in developing countries and the great challenges involved in the reconstruction process; it also allowed identifying efforts at framing good practice guidelines by humanitarian and other agencies. Findings – The paper finds that, while the review largely indicated the major challenges and shortcomings in the field, it also allowed identifying some examples of good practice and the reasons for their effectiveness. Originality/value – As argued here, there are a number of independent guidelines for post-disaster reconstruction in developing countries, but hardly any which are widely endorsed and can be followed by humanitarian agencies. The paper therefore draws together the key issues and examples of good practice as a basis for informing the development of guidelines. Keywords Housing, Disasters, Developing countries Paper type Research paper


International Journal of Disaster Resilience in the Built Environment Vol. 2 No. 2, 2011 pp. 148-164 q Emerald Group Publishing Limited 1759-5908 DOI 10.1108/17595901111149141

1. Conceptual framework: a three-tiered structure As highlighted in this paper, housing reconstruction is a key element of post-disaster recovery initiatives in developing countries, and thus the need arises to understand what makes it effective and what does not. Evaluations of individual programmes do provide some insights, but to understand effectiveness at a broader level and its wider implications, the need for an overview or synthesis is addressed here through a desktop study. This is done by building on existing literature and taking them forward. An integrative conceptual framework of a three-tiered process is followed where a broad-based literature review is synthesised with good practice guidelines and case studies as outlined below: (1) An extensive review was conducted of studies and reports on post-disaster housing reconstruction. Two main findings from this literature review are underscored firstly: . disasters impact significantly in developing countries, particularly on the housing sector, the reason for the focus of this paper; and . great challenges arise in implementing post-disaster housing reconstruction programmes in such countries, within which effectiveness, or the lack thereof, can be understood.

the continent with the highest population and where the majority are developing countries. Housing reconstruction 149 2. various shortcomings are widely evident. 2004). For example. (3) In a field fraught with challenges typically posed in a post-disaster context as mentioned above. 2009). with the poor in these countries often being the most severely affected (Schilderman. and often represents the greatest share of loss in the total impact of a disaster on the national economy (Lyons. Disasters and housing 2. countries that experienced the greatest numbers of deaths and people affected by the top ten disasters were mostly developing countries. by far experienced the highest number of disasters and the greatest proportion of people killed by disasters during the 32-year period of 1975-2008 (ADRC. particularly rapid-onset events. A conclusion ties together the key findings of the overview and suggests that the paper has lessons for future practice in the field of post-disaster housing reconstruction in developing countries. Housing is usually the most valuable asset for people in developing countries. Because of the practical nature of the field. Asia.1 Impacts in developing countries Developing countries tend to bear the brunt of the impact of disasters. As indicated in Table I. 2006) (Figure 2). The same Broad review of literature: studies. reports. as shown in Figure 3. in the 2004 tsunami and earthquake in Indonesia. The conceptual framework is shown diagrammatically in Figure 1. produced by humanitarian and other agencies. indicating what is perceived by such agencies as effective. etc Review of good practice guidelines Identification of good practice and reasons for effectiveness Effectiveness of housing reconstruction Utilitarian value for future practice Figure 1. so that they serve as good practice examples and inform understanding of effectiveness. housing is usually the element that is most extensively damaged or lost. 2005). Conceptual framework . In disasters. Analysing the assumptions ` built into these guidelines vis-a-vis the literature in the field allowed further clarity on effectiveness. this paper offers utilitarian value in a global context of increasing frequency and magnitude of disasters.(2) The literature review also yielded a number of approaches to framing good practice guidelines. It was therefore considered all the more important to seek within the literature the limited number of cases that reportedly worked well and to identify their strengths and reasons for effectiveness. housing was the sector that experienced maximum damage as assessed by a United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean study (Marti. often associated with climate change.

February Cold wave.IJDRBE 2.985 China 1.010 China 10.747 Somalia 15. Impact of top ten disasters in 2010 Haiti 222.968 Pakistan 1.301 Europe 14% Oceania 2% Africa 25% Asia 40% Oceania <1% Africa Americas 4% 3% Americas 19% Europe 8% Figure 2.765 China 1.422 Cook Island 11.000 inhabitants – 2010 Haiti 40.506 Thailand 14.736 China 2.691 Chile 562 Peru 409 Uganda 388 Total killed and affected people by natural disasters per 100. June-August Earthquake.2 150 Natural disasters by number of deaths – 2010 Earthquake. February-March Number of reported natural disasters by country – 2010 China India Philippines USA Indonesia Australia Mexico Russia Pakistan Vietnam Source: CRED-EMDAT (2011) 22 16 14 12 11 8 8 8 7 7 Table I. May-August Earthquake.691 Mauritania 9. July-August Landslides.855 Zimbabwe 13. August Flood. April Flood.570 Russia 55.383 Benin 9.098 Chile 15. Proportion of disasters (above) and number of people killed by continent 2000-2009 Source: IFRC (2010) Asia 85% . July-December Landslides. January Heat wave.902 Pakistan 10.

2005) and in developing countries. Hence in many post-disaster recovery programmes. for example in the case of Honduras after Hurricane Mitch in 1998. In such a context. despite well-meaning intentions of implementing agencies. 2008) even in developed countries (Oxfam. Particularly in developing countries. thus housing reconstruction allows resuming high priority and often home-based subsistence livelihood activities. As often evident in postdisaster situations. Large-scale permanent housing reconstruction is usually a protracted process (Cosgrave. 2003). reconstruction projects often run up against hurdles. estimated at more than 20 times in magnitude (Barakat. The literature is replete with such examples. the impact of disasters on the built environment is much higher than in developed countries. It must however be acknowledged that income generation or livelihood is usually the highest priority for people in developing countries (Skinner. 1990). 2000). builder and labour availability. but often that is linked to housing. Ed Fi . among them. maximum resources and priority is allocated to housing and infrastructure reconstruction compared to other sectors (Lang. attempting rapid reconstruction ushers in a whole set of problems related to institutional arrangements. Impact of 2004 tsunami and earthquake on different sectors in Indonesia En ric u Ag an In d Ho uc Tr study also assessed the impact of hurricanes in several Caribbean countries and found that the housing sector was the most badly damaged (Marti. 2008). due to existing institutional and economic shortfalls. the pressure to build houses within the constraints of a disrupted context as quickly as possible so that displaced disaster victims have homes again. as well as opportunistically escalated levels of endemic constraints such as corruption and nepotism. acutely. 2.2 Challenges in housing reconstruction During post-disaster reconstruction a complex range of challenges arise (Delaney and Shrader.14 12 10 8 6 4 2 0 Housing reconstruction 151 g t try on gy re ltu ati sp us us er sh er y in or Damage Source: Marti (2005) ves Figure 3. 2000). 2005). buildings materials procurement. summarised below. the house being also a workplace in many such countries. a significant number of affected people tend to prioritise housing as their most urgent need (Delaney and Shrader.

Housing reconstruction involves not only rebuilding houses. Gharaati and Davidson.. choice of building materials and infrastructural services. Although the importance of beneficiary consultation and participation is widely recognised by agencies. 1979).2 152 Typical implementation process. Lawther. highlighted by Oliver-Smith (2007) in resettlement projects in Turkey: [. corruption. Davis. Seraj and Ahmed. Such resettled village layouts lack the variety as well as culturally constructed ritual spaces required by people in their environments. A typical process after disasters adopted by governments and humanitarian aid agencies is to provide temporary or transitional shelter at the emergency response and relief stages followed by building permanent housing in subsequent stages of rehabilitation and reconstruction. Delaney and Shrader. a prime cause behind the cultural misfit of reconstructed housing. 2000. .] ease of construction and the imposition of urban middle class values on rural populations seem to lie at the root of problems of monotonous. 2009. 2008. 1984). 2009. Typically. 1979. 1990) to more recent ones (Barenstein. 2009. albeit a limited amount. 2008). though increasingly. inequitable distribution. in the usual post-disaster rush for rapid reconstruction beneficiary participation is precluded or considered unnecessarily time-consuming. inordinate construction delays and financial mismanagement and misappropriation . The cultural inappropriateness issue has persisted over a long time. Razani. as done in several countries affected by the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami. Termed by Delaney and Shrader (2000) as the “tyranny of the urgent”. Boen and Jigyasu. Skinner. indicated by early observations (Chisholm. disaster victims are relocated through resettlement programmes with a view towards reducing future disaster risk. An extensively observed inadequacy of reconstructed housing in many developing countries in a variety of contexts is its cultural inappropriateness resulting from the lack of understanding of local needs by implementing agencies. The inappropriateness is evident in size and style of houses. also documented widely (Ganapati and Ganapati. design of spaces within and around the house. 1978. culture and aspirations of beneficiaries. 1984. Ganapati and Ganapati. creation of vulnerability. Chisholm. Additionally an approach common in reconstruction projects in many developing countries throughout the past is the typical regimental barrack-type layout of resettlement areas. international non-governmental organisations (NGOs). . human rights abuse. Russell et al. 2003. Beneficiaries react by refusing to inhabit the housing or attempt to adapt in various ways. observed by several authors (Kronenberger.IJDRBE 2. 2008. A range of other shortcomings characterise the production of reconstruction housing: lack of institutional coordination. such as in Sri Lanka and India. uniform designs for resettled populations. Donor-driven permanent housing is built typically by contractors. it is often done inadequately. consequently resulting in production of housing that fails to match the needs. if at all. 2004). lack of planning and clear policy. from modifying the house to dismantling it and selling its components (Barakat. philanthropic organisations and private companies. In some cases. and housing reconstruction continues to fail in this respect widely. are built by owners with funding from donor agencies. but also rehabilitation or reconstruction of infrastructure as an intrinsic element linked to housing. 2005. UN agencies. housing reconstruction is funded by donor agencies including bilateral development aid agencies and banks.

Being limited in its role. 2006. 2006). how reconstruction is linked to other aspects of post-disaster recovery. Indeed there is very little literature on global guidelines for best practice that can be followed by the range of international humanitarian and other agencies active in this field. INFORM. possibly due the occurrence of several recent devastating earthquakes in India where the book was produced. Perlez. but does not deal with reconstruction of permanent housing. this publication deals broadly with disaster risk reduction and response. There are many country-specific guidelines. Guidelines for good practice Given the importance and increasingly widespread necessity of post-disaster housing reconstruction and evidence of. warranty. 2006. institution and capacity building and environmental sustainability is not evident. In the disasters field.(AFP. 2007. or even both country/region and hazard specific such as Arya (2000) (cyclones in Orissa. India) or Building and Social Housing Foundation (BSHF) (1993) (typhoons in the Philippines). (2009) have produced a guidebook for built environment professionals. The choice of built environment professionals appears to be derived very much from a formal sector approach typical of developed countries – in most developing countries where the bulk of construction Housing reconstruction 153 . but the focus is mostly on earthquakes. Steinberg. Boen. b. Although attempts to establish connections to overall disaster risk reduction have been made. Eye on Aceh. 3. 2005. this handbook is concerned mainly with guidelines for post-disaster response and in the field of the built environment includes emergency shelter and camp management issues. as shown in Table II. such as the Sphere Handbook. is currently lacking for housing reconstruction in developing countries. Tsunami Evaluation Coalition. Although some elements from such guidelines can be adapted for wider application. this guidebook appears to suggest that the role of these professionals end after project implementation and whether they need to play active roles over a much longer term of repair. maintenance. not particularly in the context of post-disaster reconstruction with its specific challenges. 2006a. perhaps the most well-known guidelines for good practice are set out in the Sphere Handbook (Sphere Project. Clini (2006) (tsunami) or Cosgrave (2008) (earthquake). within which it mentions the typical built environment professionals involved in reconstruction and attempts to delineate their roles in terms of a typical set of activities. Lloyd-Jones et al. 2009. extension and remodelling has not been clarified.1 Disaster risk reduction and response guidelines for built environment professionals Although somewhat general and certainly not as comprehensive as the Sphere Handbook. 2006. Being general in scope. such as livelihood. Rawal et al. However. (2006) have attempted to compile a guidebook on disaster-safe construction. not a long-term process integrated into an overall framework of community development and resilience building. a set of guidelines widely agreed by the international humanitarian aid community. 3. and on hazard-resistant construction per se. and also hazard-specific ones such as Building Research Establishment (BRE) (1998) (cyclone). Reconstruction in that sense is viewed as a one-off affair. also widespread. 2004). shortcomings as discussed in the preceding section it has become necessary to develop guidelines for global good practice. Ahmed (2005) (Bangladesh) or National Housing Development Authority (NHDA) (2005) (Sri Lanka). for example. Forbes.

It is not a matter of only providing training in a top-down sense to such informal professionals. particularly after the 2004 tsunami.IJDRBE 2. for any such guidebook to be relevant to the developing world context. although with many weaknesses according to professional standards. The World Bank handbook’s 12 guiding principles on reconstruction Source: Jha (2009) .2 154 activity occurs at the informal sector. the 12 guiding principles proposed in the handbook are shown in Table III. carpenters. Presently in draft form.) that guide this form of activity. Therefore. 2009). Typical activities of built environment professionals in reconstruction Source: Summarised from Lloyd-Jones et al. formal sector professional have much to gain from their on-the-ground locally embedded experience.2 The World Bank’s guidelines for reconstruction A more detailed approach to address the lack of global guidelines for reconstruction has been undertaken by the World Bank by embarking on production of a Handbook on Housing and Community Reconstruction (Jha. it is necessary to recognise the type of informal professionals (local masons. hitherto neglected generally in reconstruction programmes has encouragingly found a place in this handbook. etc. reactivate communities Put owners in charge of reconstruction and address needs of tenants and squatters Provide an effective organisational structure Use reconstruction to rethink the future and conserve the past Collaborate with communities rather than just inviting their participation Promote civil society engagement consistent with reconstruction policy Use assessment and monitoring to improve reconstruction outcomes Use reconstruction to mobilize disaster risk management policy reform Manage financial resources and stabilise family finances Avoid relocation or mitigate all its impacts Avoid sacrificing hard-won policies to facilitate reconstruction Establish environmental sustainability as a reconstruction objective Table III. 3. a crucial contemporary concern. (2009) Housing and community reconstruction handbook: guiding principles 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Do not just reconstruct houses. The environmental sustainability aspect. These guidelines of the World Bank are wide-ranging and appear to be derived from recent experiences of post-disaster reconstruction. the role of professionals should be posited as a two-way process of synthesis of formal and informal knowledge. It is not clear whether the guidelines are targeted specifically for Reconstruction Activities Housing/building design Housing/building construction advice/supervision Infrastructure planning and implementation Training Project planning and management Financial planning and management Built environment professionals Architects Surveyors Planners Engineers Table II.

It should be recognised as an attempt to formulate guidelines for global good practice in housing reconstruction. It attempts to link the reconstruction process to a number of sectors.developing countries. Indeed. 2009). linking the reconstruction process with technical standards and methods. the technical guidelines for construction pertain mainly to general good practice and do not attempt to link them to safer hazard-resistant construction. usually linked to the modality of contractual arrangement – donor-driven. where such guidelines are yet lacking. A more comprehensive set of guidelines. still in draft form. Nonetheless. 2004). is being reviewed and will hopefully invite inputs from a wide range of experts and stakeholders at subsequent stages before it is published. for example in housing reconstruction projects implemented after the 1999 earthquake in Turkey (Ganapati and Ganapati. While communities there were overwhelmed by the tragic impact of such a massive disaster. it has been prepared in general terms relevant to a wide range of developing contexts. is the need for time and resources for following such a participatory and multi-stakeholder inclusive approach. 2009) and the 1993 earthquake in Maharastra. In more recent owner-driven reconstruction projects supported by the World Bank after the 2004 tsunami in Aceh and Nias – almost tipping the boat – community participation was “instrumentalized as if it were a panacea for all the shortcomings of actions by government or contractors” (Steinberg. The participatory approach is implicitly cross-cutting across the guidelines. leading to communities being overloaded and consequently yielding poor results. it leads one to wonder how the quality of participation would be ensured. it appears that the World Bank’s handbook. this was the reasoning behind the Turkey and India projects that were “top down. 2007). intensive community participation was expected as in a non-emergency situation. but to be comprehensive they need to include technical aspects of house construction. 3. so how better results will be achieved in the future through such generic guidelines remains open to speculation. India (Schilderman. Although this has been produced in Sri Lanka after the 2004 tsunami. indicated by its focus on coastal areas. 2004) or the concept of participation applied only in a limited sense (Ganapati and Ganapati. particularly in a disrupted post-disaster context in resource-poor developing countries. warranty and accountability for faulty construction and defects. there remains a need to address a key strategic aspect in post-disaster housing reconstruction – mechanism for ensuring good quality of construction – together with liability. often made by implementing agencies. but as this is a rhetoric widely employed but seldom followed appropriately. However. However. such as the rat-trap masonry bond and filler roof Housing reconstruction 155 . perhaps more relevant to the Sri Lankan context. A more obvious critique. given the strategic and policy orientation of the guidelines. The World Bank’s track record in the participatory field does not indicate satisfactory results. owner-driven or any mode in between these two. did not allow for user participation” (Schilderman. Guidelines for some of the examples of innovative technologies. but they seem sufficiently broad to be applied in a wide range of contexts. has been produced by Practical Action (2006) as summarised in Table IV. but nevertheless underscoring an approach that is comprehensive and recognises the multi-sectoral relationships in housing reconstruction.3 Technical guidelines for housing reconstruction The above guidebooks focus primarily on institutional and professional aspects of the reconstruction process.

though some of its elements could be utilised to build back better during reconstruction in areas that are subject to future risk. successful cases of housing reconstruction representing good practice might be isolated examples. However. it would be necessary to link such technical guidelines to institutional and professional aspects and identifying linkages with other key sectors. There are few though that deal specially with housing and building in post-disaster contexts. stands out as an example in this field. (1995). illustrated by examples of projects or programmes that have been considered successful.2 156 slab. Examples of good practice Guidelines for good practice should be derived from real-life examples of good practice. It is however more of a handbook on building safer buildings in hazard-prone areas. even if only some elements of these cases indicate success or positive aspects. There are many technical guidebooks on building construction in developing countries. Rebuilding homes and livelihoods Livelihood Strengthening development in post. for example. it has been chosen here to discuss key aspects of good practice. they need to be drawn out so that lessons can be gained for informing. despite its limitations. not so much as a guidebook on housing reconstruction. much too exhaustive to list here. These technologies have been developed and applied elsewhere (such as in India) and it is not known how they perform in the context of Sri Lanka. perhaps provides a template for production of such a guidebook. This is not a definitive list of such examples. together with a supplement on safer construction techniques against some of the main hazard types. Given the overall state of shortcomings outlined earlier. For a comprehensive guidebook. The publication by Coburn et al.small-scale disaster situations coastal fisheries Table IV. Therefore. A more relevant technical guidebook perhaps would require setting out general principles of good construction for typical building methods and practices in developing countries. the BASIN network comprised of a number of agencies from different countries that specialise in this field has produced many such guidebooks (see web site: and whether the beneficiaries chose them or were unilaterally promoted by Practical Action remains a matter of investigation. developing and promoting wider good practice. 4. The Practical Action guidebook discussed above. Menu for “rebuilding home and livelihoods” Appropriate transport infrastructure and models for rural communities in postdisaster situations Process guidelines Technical briefs Waste management in post-disaster rebuilding Source: Practical Action (2006) . some key ones have been selected here to illustrate broadly the nature of successful approaches. Whether beneficiaries living in houses where these technologies have been used are satisfied or experiencing problems needs to be explored. so that the guidebook user would have a choice of options to adapt according to context and circumstances. are based on Practical Action’s post-tsunami housing reconstruction projects in Sri Lanka.IJDRBE 2. although somewhat dated.

) in coordination with local authorities. Reconstruction projects implemented in a participatory owner-driven mode need to ensure that beneficiaries have adequate technical support from local community-based builders and construction workers for good quality house construction. coupled with an ongoing “safer house” campaign throughout the province and surrounding affected areas including training for more than 100 local builders. a local construction company and communities. etc. and in hazard-prone areas. to ensure that the houses would be able to withstand future hazard impact. The success is also linked to formulating easily comprehensible key hazard-resistant construction principles. fishing nets. 2007. India. DWF has pioneered the development of wind-resistant housing in coastal areas facing cyclone risk in central Vietnam. www. particularly if the relationship strongly involves local institutions and communities. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Choose the location carefully to avoid the full force of the wind Build a house with a simple shape to avoid negative pressure Build the roof at an angle of 308-458 to prevent it from lifting off Avoid wide roof overhangs. region or country by repeated demonstration of good practice have a higher chance of success. 2006. The success of the work is also due to its integration with livelihood support (tools. walls. DWF’s work highlights the significant impact and demonstration effect for local replication that can be achieved through such projects that combine practical training and technical inputs. Vietnam since 1989 (see below): Longstanding practice of DWF in Vietnam. International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR). Gujarat state in India experienced a number of earthquakes. Working with provincial and commune level authorities.Agencies that establish a longstanding relationship in an area. separate the veranda structure from the house Make sure the foundations. equipment. As the DWF example indicates. within the framework of local participation it is also necessary to develop local capacity so that the technical “know-how” remains in the area and benefits the wider community beyond project beneficiaries and is replicated beyond project confines. DWF homepage: www.wikipedia. roof structure and roof covering are all firmly fixed together Reinforce the triangular bracing in the structure Make sure the roof covering is attached to the roof structure to prevent it from lifting Match opposing openings Use doors and windows that can be closed Plant trees around the house as wind breaks Housing reconstruction 157 Source: DWF (2005) Table V. DWF’s “10 basic principles of typhoon-resistant construction” . in this case DWF’s “10 basic principles of typhoon-resistant construction” (Table V) that enable building general understanding. India (see below): Owner-driven earthquake resistant housing reconstruction in Gujarat.devworks/. most notably in 1993 and 2001. Such an example is in Gujarat state.web.ora/wiki/Development Workshop). which can then act as a stepping stone to more detailed construction methods and techniques relating to these principles. Recent work after the 2006 Typhoon Xangsane supported by the European Commission Humanitarian Aid Office resulted in rehabilitation and reconstruction of 268 houses to wind-resistant standard.en. An example of ´ this is illustrated by the work of Development Workshop France (DWF) in Hue DWF was awarded the 2008 World Habitat Award (see Brouant.

even though derived from local practice earlier attempts had faced similar impediments (Skinner. the programme introduced earthquake-resistant innovations to reduce future risk together with technical back-up through extensive training of local masons in the improved construction methods. where subsequent earthquakes established the sturdiness of houses built earlier (Lowe. 1. a year later when another earthquake hit and these houses withstood it. it has been observed that not all houses built are seismically safe (Barakat. 2009. UN-Habitat. The ITDG (now Practical Action) implemented a number of post-earthquake reconstruction projects in Peru during the 1990s. Radford. 1990). Although the new houses were based on local and traditional designs. Some such events might be unpredictable. Here the traditional wattle-and-daub “quincha” construction was improved by using stabilised cement instead of mud. now Practical Action. in reconstruction projects after earthquakes during the early 1990s in Peru. to implement an owner-driven reconstruction programme. However. Sometimes events outside the control of agencies can contribute to success. the value of this form of . 2008). This is demonstrated by the work of the Intermediate Technology Development Group (ITDG). Demonstration effect for acceptance of earthquake resistant housing in Pent. A study by the World Habitat Research Unit found a very high level of satisfaction among the beneficiaries of this programme (Barenstein. Beneficiaries are also provided technical support through house designs and construction specifications and assisted in field interpretation. The owner-driven model of housing reconstruction merits more examination. When the first set of houses was built after the 1990 earthquake.000 masons were trained in the process. resulting in spontaneous replication of improved new construction technologies beyond the project confines or timeframe. Abhiyan. UN-Habitat beneficiaries are provided funds in instalments according to stages of construction where agency staff inspect and monitor the quality of work at each stage before fund disbursal. 2008). this model if implemented carefully has definite advantages exemplified in the example from India (see “Owner-driven earthquake resistant housing reconstruction in Gujarat. 2006. 2008. communities were not entirely convinced of the merits of improved “quincha”. the owner-driven model has potential of harnessing and synthesising both professional/formal and local/informal skills. highlighting the challenges of achieving good quality construction through owner-driven programmes. A key success element of the programme was that relocation was avoided and houses were rebuilt in situ. benefiting from existing services and networks instead having to re-establish them in a new location. 2003). but a context with regular frequency of recurring hazard events provides opportunity for demonstrating good practice. and utilised to build 558 earthquake-resistant houses through a self-help process where community members were trained and they then assisted each other to build the houses. However. allowing complementary synergy. 1997). gaining experience over an extended period and building upon that (UNDP. India” section) and also reportedly in UN-Habitat’s post-tsunami reconstruction projects in Sri Lanka and Indonesia (personal communications with UN-Habitat in Sri Lanka and Aceh. 2001).IJDRBE 2. Nonetheless. particularly on construction quality achievable by beneficiaries and local construction workers. After the 2001 earthquake. Conducted appropriately.270 earthquake-resistant houses in 90 villages were built and more than 8.2 158 The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) supported a local organisation.

Centro de Estudios y Prevencion de Desastre and local Red Cross chapters have been implementing post-earthquake reconstruction projects using improved “quincha” (Wilderspin et al. All the beneficiaries may not choose to extend their house. Here capping of traditional earthen plinths with cement-stabilised soil. resulting in further deforestation and environmental impact (Ahmed and O’Brien. 2008). was introduced. World Vision built extendable houses with an earthquake-resistant structural core that allowed building another floor without compromising the strength of the structure (Greenblott. Where land is restricted. agencies were found to endorse and apply this technique in their forthcoming programmes (UNDP. personal communication with Islamic Relief Bangladesh. it would present immense challenges and would be highly demanding for agencies to build housing catering to individual beneficiary needs. Movement for ´ Social Housing. when possible and if resources permit. some agencies have begun to understand the post-completion housing transformation process and incorporate provisions for future changes that can be made by beneficiaries. 2005. A similar case is an UNDP-supported post-flood housing reconstruction project during 2004-2005 in Bangladesh. On the other hand.000 houses were built in this method and demonstrated their durability in subsequent floods. 2008) is followed where a standard-sized house is provided to beneficiaries with widely varying numbers of household members and diverse home-based livelihoods. Column stubs extending into the upper level as well as a staircase for accessing the second level made building and inhabiting an extra floor easy. a new technique. thousands of improved “quincha” houses were built subsequently by local communities. in a post-disaster situation where a large volume of houses have to be built as quickly as possible. extend and renovate the standard house to accommodate their needs (see for example Ahmed and O’Brien. What this example underscores is the need for agencies to recognise the diverse spatial needs of beneficiaries and incorporate provisions and options for adapting and transforming a standard or core house over time to such needs. 2008. was visibly demonstrated. Independent of the project. Large-scale reconstruction programmes often place great demand on natural resources for building materials. Even recently. this approach places beneficiaries in an inconvenient position. However. 2008). particularly large households or those requiring more space to generate livelihoods.. in which case. 2007). a “one-size-fits-all approach” (Russell et al. 2010). For example. 2008. the problem of acquiring certified timber due to available supplies being linked to illegal logging contributing to deforestation. they can continue to live in the original standard house. in Southern India after the 2004 tsunami. A built-in partial extension on the second level allowed beneficiaries to complete another living unit on that level for an extended family. in a context with scarce supply of wood or petrol fuel for brick-burning. Shelter Coordination Group. modify. woodlands cleared for building settlements result in negative impact on the environment (Barenstein. beneficiaries actively remodel. or in multi-storey buildings. led to widespread production of brick masonry houses. Initially partner NGOs of the project were averse to the idea. In Indonesia after the 2004 tsunami. 2008). Typically in most housing reconstruction projects. 2009. other agencies in Peru including Cooperazione Internazionale. Mueller and Beck. but after more than 16. and particularly in resettlement schemes.. Housing reconstruction 159 .

many of which severely impact upon the poorest and most vulnerable communities in developing countries. Nonetheless. 2008). magnitude and intensity of disasters. this settlement consists of 94 stilt houses made of timber connected by a “floating” walkway. scale of programme. 2006). albeit in varying degrees. in all the examples cited in this paper. As mentioned earlier in the preceding section. 5. as illustrated by the example in Thailand. it is necessary to identify examples of success. 2005). The location provides the fisherfolk beneficiaries access to the sea. a key element permeating throughout. Environment-sensitive design of housing reconstruction in Thailand. also contribute to increasing vulnerability and disaster risk. such as salvaging and using materials from buildings damaged by the disaster (Mueller and Beck. however meagre. or having a policy for waste management on reconstruction sites (Practical Action. It would be difficult to find examples where success has been achieved . There are many factors – context. Conclusion Global climate change is resulting in increasing frequency. One example where an attempt has been made to rebuild a settlement on relocated land in a coastal mangrove area by disrupting the natural environment as little as possible is in Koh Mook. etc. Designed by Community Architects for Shelter and Environment in consultation with the beneficiary community and implemented by the government’s Community Organisations Development Institute. Other factors.2 160 United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). This was the only land made available by the government for relocation away from the tsunami-affected coast and the implementing agency had to work within this constraint so that at least the displaced community had a new home. but is also protected from storms and tidal surges by the mangroves. cooperation of communities. budget. While there is an array of examples of failure. political goodwill. it can be highlighted as an example of sensitivity to the natural environment. There are various ways of reducing environmental impact of reconstruction programmes. – that contribute to success in post-disaster reconstruction programmes and the criteria used for assessing success can be variable because as yet there is no globally accepted standard or guidelines in this field. is shown below. In the face of frequent disasters. is the understanding of local conditions gained from community-based consultative and participatory processes that allowed a degree of success. deforestation. post-disaster housing reconstruction projects are being implemented widely and are anticipated to increase in volume and scale in the future. Thailand after the 2004 tsunami (Asian Coalition of Housing Rights (ACHR). The houses are built on concrete columns that do not get damaged in the water and allow the tide to flow through the mangroves and maintains the ecosystem. or an environmentally sensitive approach to design of settlements. particularly in developing countries where disaster impacts are most widely and acutely experienced.IJDRBE 2. very little study has been done on the environmental impacts of post-disaster resettlement and agencies by and large tend to pay little attention to this issue. It has therefore become essential now that reconstruction actors and stakeholders begin addressing shortcomings such as those identified above and achieve global good practice models and processes. such as rapid and unplanned urbanisation. in order to gain lessons that would allow achieving more widespread good practice. 2006). conflict and inequitable resource distribution. Although this is a relatively small project.

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29 No. Dunn. Hunnarshaala Foundation (2006). May. Bangkok. Vol. (1963).IJDRBE 2. London. Roseberry. O. . V.. Hettige. and Olgay. and Ahmed. (2007). (2006). (2008). A. New Delhi. “Housing reconstruction in Aceh: relationships between house type and environmental sustainability’”. Manual of Tropical Housing and Building. G. (1976). IRIN (Integrated Regional Information Networks) (accessed March 2008).T. Guidelines on Community-based Housing Finance and Innovative Credit Systems for Low-income Households. Australian Or visit our web site for further details: www.. (Eds). United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) (2008). “Rebuilding Hambantota after the tsunami”. M. R. Tsunami Recovery in Sri Lanka: Retrospect and Prospect. NJ.I. Mayhew. New Zealand (accessed August 2009). Christchurch. available at: www. NY. and Szokolay. Ingersoll. pp. S. Mid-term Socio-technical Assessment of Shelter Reconstruction. Princeton University Press. Caritas Sri Lanka. Givoni. UNESCAP. O. Pukteris.V. Colombo. Design with Climate. S.J. Man. (2008). Nakazato. K. SPARC and ActionAid International.. Koenigsberger.emeraldinsight. Corresponding author Iftekhar Ahmed can be contacted at: ifte. and Murao. Proceedings of the 4th International i-Rec Conference. O’Brien. New York. A. (1973).. (2007). (1990). Sri Lanka: Mixed Reactions as Tsunami Reconstruction Winds Down. University of Canterbury. Journal of Natural Disaster Science. H. Davidson. M. “A balancing act: an assessment of the environmental sustainability of permanent housing constructed by international community in post-disaster Aceh”.ahmed@rmit. V. Montreal.G. Applied Science. A. 2. Princeton.2 164 Further reading Caritas (2007). Climate and Architecture. C. Colombo.H. Nations Development Programme. Learning from Post-Tsunami Shelter Experiences. and De Bois. T. 361-70. “Study on regional differences in permanent housing reconstruction process in Sri Lanka after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami”. Universite de Montreal. in Lizzarralde. D. 63-71. To purchase reprints of this article please e-mail: reprints@emeraldinsight.reliefweb. Building Abroad: Procurement of Construction and Reconstruction Projects in the International Context. Sirivardan. Longman.