The humanitarian sector is increasingly aware of the role that good quality evidence plays in underpinning effective and accountable practice. This review addresses the need for reliable evidence by evaluating current knowledge about the intersection of two key outcome targets of post‐disaster shelter response ‐ supporting shelter self‐recovery and building back safer. Evidence about post‐disaster shelter programmes that aim to improve hazard resistance whilst supporting shelter self‐recovery has been systematically analysed and evaluated. Technical support, especially training in safer construction techniques, was found to be a key programme feature, but the impact of this and of other programme attributes on building safety was largely not ascertainable. Programme reports lack sufficient detail, especially about the hazard resistance of repaired houses. Accounts of shelter programmes need to include more reliable reporting of key activities and assessment of outcomes, in order to contribute to the growing evidence base in this field.
Despite extensive knowledge on disaster risk reduction and knowledge transfer studies since the 1970s in management and classroom situations, the adoption of knowledge to reconstruct more hazard-resistant housing after a natural disaster is still rare in self-recovery processes. Approximately 85% of the disaster affected populations recover without humanitarian or governmental shelter assistance. Hazard-resistant construction guidelines are infrequently applied, and new insights from scientific research rarely lead to changes in policy and practice. As a result, disaster affected populations remain vulnerable in case of recurring disasters. The focus of this study is where and why the exchange of knowledge and adoption of knowledge fails in the self-recovery process. The literature presents causes for the rejection of knowledge as the lack of institutional structures and communicating science, and proposes to engage both ends of the producer-user spectrum in a dialogue to negotiate a consensual view of what is feasible and desirable. Currently, governmental and humanitarian organisations involved in recovery aid have difficulty designing communicative interactions effectively in communities using and diffusing hazard-resistant construction guidelines. To reach and support the 85% in self-recovery processes, there is a need to develop an adequate understanding of how knowledge exchange and adoption in such interactions can be more effective. To address this challenge we propose an analytical framework to evaluate knowledge transfer interventions in self-recovery processes. Current knowledge interactions in post-disaster recovery are examined and critically analysed using existing knowledge exchange literature. The framework intends to highlight barriers and failure mechanisms that may hamper the knowledge adoption. This analysis provides proposals based on logic to overcome these obstacles; lifting barriers, strengthening trust, matching need and knowledge and reducing risk of adoption failure. The value of these proposals need to be verified in field research. In line with the proposals a second framework is proposed, that enables the analysis of knowledge exchange interventions, as knowledge exchange is essential for adoption.
Self-recovery in post-disaster shelter is not the exception but the norm. Following earthquake, flood or storm, the majority of affected families will inevitably rebuild their homes themselves, using their own resources, but there is little support from the international community to encourage good safe building practice.
While the communication of key messages about safer building has been carried out effectively in development contexts, it rarely forms a major part of humanitarian response programming. If the humanitarian shelter sector is committed to the principles of Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR), more can be done to support the process of safer reconstruction among self-rebuilders.
This paper argues the case for the humanitarian community to link post-disaster shelter programming with the more developmental approach of communicating building safety to a much wider audience than just the most vulnerable beneficiaries. It proposes the shelter sector and the donor community direct more resources towards support for this process, which it argues would augment the effectiveness and impact of a shelter response.
The Building and Construction Improvement Programme (BACIP) has been working with the high mountain communities of the Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan since 1997. Alongside its contribution to the general built environment and housing improvement of the area, the programme is engaged in the development and promotion of solutions for making the buildings seismically resistant. Gilgit-Baltistan falls in a high seismic zone and the earthquake of 2005 caused the death of nearly 90,000 people in the neighbouring state of Azad Kashmir and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan, which share long borders with Gilgit-Baltistan. BACIP believes that investment in making communities safer will minimize the chance of loss of life and assets and reduce the cost of reconstruction. BACIP works with local communities in a participatory manner to improve the local housing by improving safety and comfort without changing the local culture and way of living. For the sustainability of its approach, it has made efforts to make its solutions part of the local market so that entrepreneurs and artisans are available to manufacture, sell or construct these solutions. A number of profitable enterprises have been established. Alongside hands-on training and demonstration, BACIP uses media such as radio for the promotion of its solutions and awareness of communities. In December 2013 with the support of the Building and Social Housing Foundation (BSHF), BACIP revisited a number of houses that were constructed using seismic-resistant technologies and it was found that the solutions applied to these houses had greatly contributed to the safety and comfort of the users. 100 per cent of the houses were in use and were occupied by the original owners.
Our research into the long-term impact of reconstruction provided new learning, leading to some suggestions for future changes to reconstruction and recovery and our ways of working. We were also able to identify gaps where we need to broaden our understanding, perhaps through future research. However, it is worth noting again that our review of case studies was based on qualitative information only. Numbers interviewed in each case were relatively small, and, therefore, did not produce statistically viable quantitative evidence. As far as possible, we verified individually obtained information through triangulation. We also compared our findings with those of two parallel research efforts with a similar focus. That said we are aware that these case studies are looking back at reconstruction over a very variable timespan, ranging between 4 and 35 years, making comparison of long-term impact difficult even between them. Moreover, they took place in widely differing contexts, and every new crisis is bound to be different again. The positive lessons that have come out of this research will, therefore, always need to be adapted to new disaster situations. Bearing in mind these restrictions, we can see some of the findings from the literature reviewed in Chapter 1 confirmed in our case studies. Other literature findings are harder to verify, partly because our sample of cases may not have covered them sufficiently, but also because these findings may have been evident in the short-term impact and changed in the longer term, a phenomenon confirmed in the research by Duyne Barenstein in Chapter 3.