Disaster recovery is relatively under-researched and there are many gaps in our knowledge and understanding. The old notions of disasters as an interruption in development, and of recovery as linear progress towards a restoration of pre-disaster normality, are being superceded by more sophisticated understanding. It is now recognised that recovery is complex, exhibiting multiple and diverse patterns of change, and having no fixed end point. Moreover, it takes place in a 'new normality': a context that is, to some extent, irreversibly altered by the disaster itself. New insights into reconstruction and recovery processes are emerging, but the empirical evidence is patchy, and as a result we are still some way from establishing broad, coherent theories.
Members of EPICentre have been involved in several initiatives in this area of disaster studies in recent years. These include empirical research into long-term post-disaster change, the influence of short-term decision making on longer-term reconstruction pathways, and investigation of alternative approaches to supporting people left homeless by disaster. EPICentre members have also supported disaster shelter response (most recently in Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines in 2014) and taken part in a number of post-disaster reconnaissance missions (including the 2009 L'Aquila earthquake in Italy and 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in Japan) to look at reconstruction processes from an engineering perspective.
EPICentre plans to put more emphasis on this area of disaster studies. The aim is to understand recovery drivers and processes better, particularly in urban areas, and hence to inform post-disaster policy and practice for quicker and more effective recovery. Research will be informed by a socio-technical systems perspective that sees physical reconstruction and socio-economic recovery as linked processes. Operational and policy-making institutions will be sought out as partners.
Epicentre projects in this field: