Enhancing Disaster Recovery

Lessons from Exemplary International Disaster Management Practices

Published In: Journal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, v. 7, no. 1, article 40, May 2010, p. 1-20

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2010

by Jeffrey Garnett, Melinda Moore

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Long-term recovery from disasters presents a formidable challenge to affected communities, requiring sound strategies to restore the health and livelihoods of those affected. This paper examines exemplary practices related to long-term recovery and redevelopment from disasters in other countries, and identifies key themes and promising practices relevant to the United States and other countries. From the eight disasters examined, we find that successful recovery efforts emphasized local empowerment, organization and leadership, and planning for sustainability - three broad approaches that characterized the practices employed by other countries. We believe these practices offer examples that can help to inform disaster management within the U.S., whether contributing to the forthcoming legislatively mandated National Disaster Management Framework or to implement such policy once the document is released. Our analysis suggests three key approaches to enhance disaster recovery: (1) Incorporate long-term recovery goals into disaster response and pre-disaster planning; (2) Expand the knowledge base by incorporating research into recovery and harnessing lessons learned from international experiences; and (3) Develop an outcomes-oriented approach to disaster recovery planning, including the measurement of community-level outcomes. Our findings are broadly relevant to disaster recovery in the United States and in other countries, including Haiti in the wake of its January 2010 earthquake.

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