The work of emergency and disaster management isn’t over once the critical event ends. While disaster management (specifically) refers to the process of organising and directing resources to cope with disaster through the coordination of roles and responsibilities, the recovery phase of disaster begins immediately after the threat to human life (from said disaster) subsides.
What happens, then? Well, those responsible for post-disaster recovery seek to bring an affected area back to normalcy. Recovery, as defined by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, is the restoration and improvement (where appropriate) of facilities, livelihoods, and living conditions of disaster-affected communities, including efforts to reduce disaster risk factors.
Recovery doesn’t always have to be a physical outcome, either. It can also be social process, encompassing decision-making about restoration and reconstruction activities. Through this prism, scholars advise leaders responsible for post-disaster recovery to look at the post-disaster period as an opportunity to upgrade the quality of construction to better resist subsequent events and begin to think through ways to mitigate future damage.
Since disasters provide a unique chance to effect change – not only in building capacity for immediate recovery but also for long-term sustainable development, it’s important to understand the steps involved in emergency and disaster management. Those stages include:
Ultimately, post-disaster recovery and reconstruction is about helping individuals, entities, and community return to a level of normality. Given the stakes, reconstruction must be taken seriously. According to guidance from the UN, post-disaster recovery should be governed by the following principles:
Principles are one thing. But how do these principles filter into plans that will help communities bounce back?
Well, in the case of largescale disasters, governments and multinational actors often conduct rapid assessments meant to identify pressing needs in the disaster zone. These rapid assessments tend to be organised around clusters or sector teams; they also make use of sector-specific assessment methodologies and tools.
One of those methodologies is the PDNA (Post-Disaster Needs Assessment). The PDNA is a standardised methodology developed by the UN, World Bank, and European Union. It’s intended to support governments to (1) assess disaster damages and losses across all sectors and social groups, (2) identify recovery needs, and (3) design an actionable and sustainable recovery strategy that can mobilise financial and technical resources.
What’s in the PDNA? It comprises a participatory assessment and recovery planning process, not just building on earlier assessments but also providing a more comprehensive and stronger empirical basis for estimating recovery costs. Key deliverables of any given PDNA include:
PDNA guidelines adhere closely to recovery principles outlined by the UN. The guidelines include:
Finally, disaster recovery not only sets the stage for restoration and rebuilding towards a new normal, but it also encourages the adoption of stricter mitigation efforts, to ensure that the new normal is more durable than ever. Only efficient planning integrated into emergency management processes, methodologies, and systems, like Noggin Emergency, can help entities make that fruitful transition.
U.S. Fire Administration: Post-Disaster Recovery Planning for Fire and EMS. Available at https://www.usfa.fema.gov/coronavirus/planning_response/recovery_planning.html.
Partnership for Disaster Resilience: Post-Disaster Recovery Planning Forum: How-To Guide. Available at https://nws.weather.gov/nthmp/Minutes/oct-nov07/post-disaster_recovery_planning_forum_uo-csc-2.pdf.
EU, UN, WB: Post-Disaster Needs Assessment Guide: Volume A. Available at https://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/UNDP_Guidance_Note_Disaster%20Recovery_final.pdf.
Published May 19, 2021