Build Back Better: Lessons from Sri Lanka’s recovery from the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami

Build Back Better: Lessons from Sri Lanka's recovery from the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami

Sandeeka Mannakkara, Suzanne Wilkinson

International Journal of Architectural Research.  Archnet-IJAR, Volume 7 - Issue 3 - November 2013 - (108-121) - Special Issue. 2013


The concept “Building Back Better” (BBB) was formally introduced following the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, which implies using a collaborative approach to improve the physical, social and economic conditions of a community during post-disaster reconstruction and recovery. This paper introduces eight BBB Principles which contribute towards achieving BBB. The post-tsunami recovery effort in Sri Lanka was examined using the BBB Principles to determine the extent to which BBB has been incorporated in immediate and long-term disaster management practices. Reports, literature, and data collected from a site visit made to Sri Lanka in 2010/2011 were analysed to establish the findings. Although BBB concepts were recognized, failure in execution resulted in a non-BBB recovery. Lessons learnt from shortcomings have been understood and incorporated into current disaster management practices. Good BBB practices currently in effect include: hazard-based land-use planning and risk-based structural regulations; increased awareness; participatory approaches; and stakeholder training. The absence of legislative support to implement BBB initiatives is the only draw-back preventing so far. Lessons from Sri Lanka can benefit disaster management practices worldwide

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