A framework for building back better during post-disaster reconstruction and recovery

Sandeeka Mannakkara

University of Auckland, PhD thesis 2014


The increasing frequency of disaster events in recent times has led to a demand for improved post-disaster reconstruction and recovery efforts. The slogan ―Build Back Better‖ (BBB) denotes improving the physical, psycho-social and economic aspects of communities during reconstruction and recovery to induce greater resilience. This research project has been designed to understand what ―Building Back Better‖ entails; the key concepts that constitute BBB; and how they can be practically implemented. The research conducted for this thesis has led to the creation of a framework including the key aspects of recovery required to build back better. BBB was represented using four categories: (1) Risk Reduction, (2) Community Recovery, (3) Implementation and (4) Monitoring and Evaluation. Risk Reduction was defined as measures put in place to reduce risks in the built environment through two ―BBB Principles‖: Principle 1 Improvement of Structural Designs and Principle 2 Land-Use Planning. Community Recovery referred to measures put in place to support socio-economic recovery of communities through: Principle 3 Social Recovery and Principle 4 Economic Recovery. Implementation referred to systems put in place to implement Risk Reduction and Community Recovery effectively and efficiently through: Principle 5 Management of Stakeholders and Principle 6 Legislation and Regulation. Monitoring and Evaluation was defined as mechanisms put in place to monitor compliance with BBB-based initiatives and obtain lesson to improve future disaster management practices. A sequential mixed methods approach was used in this research project. The qualitative phase focused on two case studies:  (1) The 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami Recovery in Sri Lanka and  (2) The 2009 Victorian Bushfires Recovery in Australia. The first phase of research was used to develop ―BBB Propositions for implementing initiatives under the defined BBB categories and Principles. The quantitative phase of the study involved conducting a survey to validate the BBB Propositions generated in the first phase using industry experts. The results of the survey exercise were used to identify critical BBB Propositions which are recommended as a guide to plan and implement future post-disaster reconstruction and recovery projects in order to build back better.

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