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close this bookDisasters and Development (Department of Humanitarian Affairs/United Nations Disaster Relief Office - United Nations Development Programme , 1994, 55 p.)
close this folderPART 3 - Assessing the trade-offs in investing in vulnerability reduction
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentWill the losses occur?
View the documentPay now, or pay later?
View the documentAssigning values to costs and benefits
View the documentJudging the effectiveness of mitigation packages
View the documentCASE STUDY
View the documentSUMMARY


Western Pacific, Part 2

In the immediate aftermath of the Typhoon which destroyed houses and businesses in the Pacific (see CASE STUDY “Western Pacific Case Study, Part 1”) an instant “building boom” ensued which quickly outstripped the local resources of the islanders.

Government funding (supplemented by international aid) was made available for immediate reconstruction of damaged structures based on the extent of the damage sustained calculated at pre-typhoon prices for building materials and labor. There was a general feeling among the population to take advantage of the grants and low cost loans while the funding lasted and a fear that these programs might disappear as quickly as they appeared.

Workers skilled in the building trades quickly raised their rates, foremen and crew leaders of larger companies left their jobs to start their own businesses. The cost of building materials doubled in five weeks and all skilled workers were under contract to repair the larger businesses and expensive vacation homes of the wealthy.

Local companies quickly advertised to attract workers from other nearby islands that were not affected, ultimately attracting many opportunistic individuals from other countries as well.

Many homeowners were left out of work due to the destruction of their employers’ places of business or of their own means of livelihood. They were not hired on as construction workers due to lack of training and tools. The grants and loans provided them now proved to be too small to restore their loss due to the escalation of material prices, and the increased cost of hiring skilled workers (if any could be found that would be willing to work on a small home rather than a business).

One local development agency understood the plight of the small homeowners and initiated a self-help building program incorporating skills training, and disaster mitigation techniques that could easily be integrated into the repair of small single family dwellings. Neighborhood associations were formed to help coordinate group meetings and to arrange cooperative rebuilding efforts. Material suppliers were educated on mitigation techniques to support the home builders.

With the skills training they acquired, and the savings in the cost of labor for the rebuilding of their houses, many families were able to completely repair their own homes in ways that left the homes stronger than they had been before the typhoon struck. Not only were the houses repaired and strengthened, but the owners gained a new self-sufficiency and an understanding of how to reduce their own vulnerability.

An advantage of screening projects using a framework of analytical methods is that it can help to focus on a variety of possible outcomes and make the factors influencing these quite explicit. This kind of approach offers a wide choice of options to policy makers, and provides the opportunity to choose options which accomplish a range of objectives and promote quantifiable as well as non-quantifiable benefits.

Q. What are the advantages of using formal, quantitative methods to review mitigation/prevention options?