Disaster Management Manual
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5.1.1 Recovery Strategy

Recovery strategy can be implemented through three different steps 1.

Step 1: Making an Assessment

Urgent needs in disaster areas are food, sanitation, shelter, and medicine. However, it is imperative to tackle the recovery process as early as possible to reduce the direct and indirect impacts of disasters on rural livelihoods and local economies. Planning the recovery process requires some basic data on the extent and impact of a disaster. The first step is to generate this information to plan for the effective rehabilitation and/or reconstruction of the affected area. During the assessment stage it is necessary, as soon as possible, to:

  1. Assess road network damage
  2. Survey and count jobs
  3. Estimate the potential for job creation
  4. Prepare documentation of the work mentioned above, which will be the basis for (i) quantity lists, (ii) estimates of the need for tools and equipment, (iii) labor inputs and (iv) cost estimates for the total work
  5. Make recommendations on how to recruit labor and secure the necessary tools and equipment, with an emphasis on securing most goods locally
  6. Identify site supervisory staff needs and make recommendations for initial training
  7. Identification of local government agencies that will collaborate (see Step 3)
  8. Identify local contractors for project implementation (see Step 3)

The collection and compilation of information about the road network is not always an easy task. Usually the road network inventory is unavailable or not updated. Little information is available on the extent of the damage and its impact on livelihoods. However, the initial assessment must produce rapid results that will direct specific project interventions. The initial assessment should look in more detail at the rehabilitation and reconstruction tasks that will be required in the affected areas to restore the transport system. Road maps and road inventories need to be prepared to assess the extent of the road network, classification, damage caused, and rehabilitation and reconstruction needs and priorities. An inventory needs to be made based on the technical characteristics of the required rehabilitation and reconstruction tasks for roads and bridges. This can then be used to identify appropriate techniques and complementary light equipment that may be required. For example, while most international experience with labor-based road works is with dirt and gravel surfaces, there have been significant advances recently with more durable asphalt. Similar design innovations can be found in low-cost bridges, especially those suitable for community-level structures. Different road conditions require different technologies.

The main problem in the affected areas is the mobilization of local support needed to rebuild the road network. Communities, contractors and local governments all lost skilled manpower, capital, and assets during the disaster. It is important to first assess the scale of this loss before planning a program to strengthen the capacity of local governments, small-scale contractors, and community groups to carry out necessary road works and contribute to the reconstruction process.

Step 2: Planning and Participation

Reconstruction of the road network must immediately meet the access and needs of public transportation. A planning process is needed where these needs can be identified quickly. The process covers the general needs of the community, and most importantly reflects the needs of the poorest and most affected members. Access to essential social and economic services generally affected by disasters and improving access to health services, education, information, markets, water, employment, and income generation opportunities are key factors in mitigating the impact of the crisis.

Integrated Rural Accessibility Planning (IRAP) is a tool that produces a comprehensive plan to improve access situations for communities, regions, and/or areas. The planning process culminates in the creation of an Accessibility Action Plan (AAP) for a specific administrative level. AAP is based on a systematic consultative process with community informants, including leaders, vulnerable groups, responsible government authorities, and other stakeholders such as NGOs. It takes stock of existing assets so repair and maintenance of these assets will be the first priority for investment. This is by far the best investment, especially when resources are limited. It also avoids creating wish lists for new assets while repairing and maintaining existing assets is ignored. It estimates travel time, travel frequency, and travel costs for social and economic activities. AAP then prioritizes needs for various sectors, such as roads, clean water, health, education, and markets. A detailed investment program is drawn up.

Experience shows that AAP is a useful tool to guide investments that will improve accessibility, which in turn will have a beneficial effect on people's potential to move out of poverty. Usually there is a sizeable “buy in” by stakeholders and investors. Critically, AAP is a tool for linking government development programs with ongoing programs from other sources and by other actors. IRAP is typically used in a "normal" development context. A scaled-down version of the process can be used in crisis situations to quickly identify priorities in a participatory manner. This strategy adopts this “cleaned up” version of the IRAP process for developing AAPs for disaster-affected communities. This AAP will be a key tool to guide immediate investment in infrastructure and will also be useful for long-term reconstruction programs. However, roads will not be planned separately from other required infrastructure. The result of planning is a list of road priorities.

Step 3: Implementation

Implementing the strategy starts with the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the road network. Special consideration will be given to the technology and involvement of small-scale contractors and local governments.

Labor based technology

With many communities losing their livelihoods as a result of the disaster, it is possible to use labor-intensive investments or a “labor-based approach” for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of physical infrastructure (where economically and technically feasible). The implementation of labor-based physical work can be carried out by small-scale local contractors supervised by local government units. Road works should be based on existing specifications and standards from relevant ministries and government authorities. If the existing specifications and standards do not allow for labor-based work, then approval needs to be sought from the government for the use of more appropriate designs and standards that support the use of labor-based technologies. This could focus on removing debris blocking roads and, as far as possible, improving transport systems to distribute aid and restart local economies.

Community works are works that create assets or reconstruct assets that serve a particular community and address their priorities exclusively. Community works could include such activities as improving the local environment through tree planting and soil conservation measures. The ownership of the outputs is held by the community rather than a line Ministry or some other Government Organization.

Public Works are carried out on district infrastructure and will frequently benefit more than one community. A common example of public works is a road improvement project. The asset belongs to the government and thus to the public, not to the village or community. Labor-intensive technology relies primarily on labor and hand-tools only. In this context, their use addresses immediate social protection needs by means of short term employment through which essential infrastructure works can be implemented, albeit restricted to a narrow range of works. The main objective is to create employment while the construction of infrastructure is often of secondary importance

Labor-Based technology offers an optimal use of labor accompanied by equipment in a cost-effective manner, and to the required quality, thus creating a shift in balance between labor and equipment in the way the work is specified and executed. The use of labor-based methods will assist in addressing immediate job creation needs, but also in the longer-term be applied to recurrent works under regular budgets of the infrastructure Ministries. By shifting wisely and carefully from the current conventional equipment-based work methods to more labor-based approaches for selected works components, it will be possible to create significant numbers of jobs and reduce poverty in a sustainable manner without compromising on the quality of the works and without affecting the timeliness and cost of the works. This strategy recommends the use of labor-based technology on public works (rural roads).

Small-scale Contractors

Works on roads and associated structures (bridges, culverts, drainage channels) can be implemented using small-scale contractors. Using the private sector to carry out this work will be a stimulus for strengthening and expanding the local small-scale contracting industry. Small-contractors can be equally instrumental in securing the short and long term employment gains from labor-based rural road works. The strategy suggests working with and through small-scale contractors and developing their skills to administer and implement labor-based works. This will contribute to the strengthening of the local construction industry. Small-scale contracting is an effective mechanism for works implementation and will be a focus of training activities to raise their skill levels and improve working conditions for labor.

There will be insufficient private sector capacity to implement the rehabilitation and reconstruction works. It is necessary to consider measures to strengthen the private sector capacity. It is important to identify the immediate training needs of small-scale contractors to involve them as soon as possible.

Local government

Local governments in disaster-affected areas are severely affected and need to be strengthened. Support to local governments to manage disaster response is one of the priorities that must be addressed. Such support will have two dimensions in terms of improving the rural road network. One of them is strengthening regional planning and coordination capacity of local governments. Second, strengthening the technical capacity of relevant local government staff to ensure implementation is carried out according to standards.

Reference sources

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