Re-conceptualising “building back better” to improve post-disaster recovery

Re-conceptualising “building back better” to improve post disaster recovery

Sandeeka Mannakkara, Suzanne Wilkinson

International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, Vol. 7 Iss: 3.  (2014)


Statistics from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP, 2008) show an increase in the number of natural disasters over time attributing to growing populations, urban growth in risk-prone areas due to scarcity of land, and global warming. Along with increasing frequency, recent disasters show an increase in magnitude and resulting destruction (Red Cross, 2010). Despite the increasing number of disaster experiences, post-disaster activities remain inefficient and poorly managed and need to be improved according to Halvorson and Hamilton (2010), Lloyd-Jones (2006) and Sawyer et al. (2010). The slogan “Build Back Better” first emerged during the multi-national recovery effort following the Indian Ocean Tsunami (Clinton, 2006, Lyons, 2009), as the need to improve current reconstruction and recovery practices and generate safer communities emerged. The aim of this paper is to understand the origins and definition of the concept of Building Back Better (BBB) in post-disaster reconstruction and recovery in order to create a framework which would allow practical application of BBB concepts to improve post-disaster reconstruction and recovery. This paper discusses the importance of BBB practices for successful recovery of communities following disasters; examines existing guidelines which include recommendations for BBB; identifies key concepts critical to BBB; analyses these concepts; and reviews shortcomings in existing BBB guidelines. This information is utilized in this paper to develop an all-inclusive set of ‘BBB Principles’ which form part of a ‘BBB Framework’ that can be employed to guide post-disaster reconstruction and recovery practices in order to build back better.

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