In the four years since Hurricane Katrina, volunteers and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) have been instrumental in supporting community efforts to recover and rebuild from the devastation in the Gulf States region. The period also provides a case study of the complex process of human recovery and the resource and policy constraints on NGO involvement in these efforts. Human recovery is the process of rebuilding social and daily routines and support networks that foster physical and mental health and well-being. To capture lessons learned for improving human recovery efforts in future disasters, RAND researchers conducted a facilitated discussion with NGO leaders representing a broad spectrum of organizations in Louisiana. The results of that discussion highlight ongoing challenges facing NGOs in terms of appropriate recovery models and financing, NGO-government coordination, and processes to formalize and operationalize NGO roles and responsibilities. Drawing on these lessons, this paper also offers a series of state and federal policy recommendations and a set of possible future research directions to assess and address barriers to long-term human recovery efforts.
This paper results from the RAND Corporation's continuing program of self-initiated research. Support for such research is provided, in part, by the generosity of RAND's donors and by the fees earned on client-funded research. The research was conducted within RAND Health under the auspices of the RAND Gulf States Policy Institute (RGSPI) in partnership with the Louisiana Association of Nonprofit Organizations, the Louisiana Family Recovery Corps, and the Louisiana Association of United Ways.
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