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close this bookSevere Tropical Storms Preparation and Response - Case Study Text (DHA/UNDRO - DMTP - UNDP, 1991, 58 p.)
close this folderPart Three: Rehabilitation and Reconstruction
View the documentK. Rehabilitation and reconstruction activities
View the documentL. Weaknesses in Early Rehabilitation
View the documentM. Implications for development
View the documentN. Lessons Learned: Programmes Contributing Positively to Preparedness
View the documentO. Subsequent mitigation projects initiated as a consequence of the disaster

M. Implications for development

The disaster had major impacts on development activity:


The disaster resulted in massive losses for the region and the country as a whole. These losses took a number of forms. First, there was great destruction of productive capital facilities and infrastructure, and their loss as development resources: these included factories, telecommunications, bridges, roads, ports, power systems and telecommunications, boats, and agricultural equipment. A feature of the disaster was the high level of damage to the contents of industrial structures, by flooding, wind, or debris. Another feature was the extent of damage to “network” systems such as telecommunications, and electric power transmission.

There was also widespread damage to agricultural resources, particularly tree crops, and productive land (from salt-water).

Second there were indirect, or “knock-on’ effects and associated costs, stemming from loss of infrastructure, disruption of inputs, loss of production time, disorganization, and the need to clean up. Transport problems accounted for high costs here, with circuitous routings and the need for intermode transfers. A particular feature of this region also was the dependence of some areas on large-scale tourism. The disaster occurred outside the main tourist season, but the subsequent loss of bookings, and decline in tourist revenue brought a reduction or cessation of income to thousands of local people. The Tourism Ministry calculated that for every six month delay in return to operation, involving facilities capable of handling 1000 tourists a week, 20 million dollars in income would be lost by the operators. In the last year, the affected region had hosted 260,000 foreign tourists.

Third, there were losses that were harder to assign specific costs to, including at least three thousand deaths (many amongst family heads and breadwinners), perhaps ten thousand injuries (mostly relatively minor), and damage to the country’s heritage (churches, temples, a museum, and an archeological site).

Fourth, there was widespread disruption of everyday life, including education (many schools were closed for weeks), normal social activity (travel was disrupted for several weeks), and a high level of general stress as the population struggled to adapt. The costs of all these were undoubtedly high, but hard to quantify with confidence.

Fifth, there were macro effects for the country as a whole: inflation, balance of payment problems, fiscal expenditure increases, and a decrease in monetary reserves. The long-term outcome was an increase in the debt burden, less investment, lowering of economic growth, and delays to new development programmes. In the latter case again, a decline in tourist investment was a high cost element.

Another major developmental impact was the interruption of normal development programmes. There was a shift in manpower resources away from development activity to more visible short-term recovery tasks (mainly for political reasons).

The investment climate was not helped by the disaster. The perception by institutional investors was that government had not organized a particularly speedy or effective response, and the lack of prior planning was obvious to all. A number of critical articles in leading investment journals covering the region added to this intangible sense of discomfort over large-scale investment.

The non-formal sector - a potential engine of recovery - benefited little from the organized response. Loss of shelter and tools affected large numbers of skilled and rather energetic artisans. The commercial credit sector had no effective mechanism for providing assistance. Most were forced to take credit from local money lenders at high rates of interest, at a time when income was reduced and the prices of raw materials was increasing. Those who were able to work, reconstructing domestic housing for example, received little technical support or additional training in low-cost mitigation methods (which some NGO staff had proposed linking to low interest credit schemes). Generally, in this sector, opportunities for improving protection at low cost were mostly missed.

In the recovery period, one of the prime challenges faced by the Government was the need to plan reconstruction projects with close consideration of the likely developmental status of the affected area over the next five to ten years. It had to ensure that reconstruction meshed with the regional development strategy as a whole. At the same time, it needed to reassess development priorities in relation to the hazard environment and reconstruction potential.

The Government also faced the challenge of shifting the focus for prioritizing and planning of rehabilitation to the provincial and district level. Simultaneously, however, it needed to maintain the financial approval and controls, overall budgeting, evaluation, and co-ordination at the national level.

Thirdly, it faced the challenge of encouraging government departments and NGOs to participate in community-sponsored mitigation programmes. The main instrument for this was NGO participatory programmes. One feature of the later stages of recovery was the way local NGOs and citizen groups in some areas started to collaborate to lobby for a more comprehensive approach by the provincial government to mitigation measures. The governments needed to respond positively to this with a range of supporting actions.

Fourth there was a parallel challenge to international organizations such as UNDP and UNDRO to find ways of relating to these local efforts. Possibilities included locally focused research initiatives, such as hazard mapping, technical advice, and organization development and support for professionals working within local NGOs. An additional, more difficult option was support for programme evaluation and network building.