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close this bookRehabilitation and Reconstruction - 1st Edition (Department of Humanitarian Affairs/United Nations Disaster Relief Office - Disaster Management Training Programme - United Nations Development Programme , 1993, 47 p.)
close this folderPart 2 - Relationship to other stages of disaster management
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentMitigation into reconstruction
View the documentReconstruction and development
View the documentReconstruction and preparedness plans
View the documentEmergency relief into rehabilitation
View the documentSummary

Emergency relief into rehabilitation

Although emergency relief is a distinctive stage of post-disaster activities, many of the actions and decisions of this period can influence later stages.

Extended external relief assistance can undermine local and national coping capacity and create dependency. For example, food aid following a typhoon in Fiji might meet short term food needs, but if the traditional coping mechanisms are underestimated and under used the communities ability to feed itself may be damaged. Any relief assistance, therefore, should balance relieving of immediate pressure on the communities with support for local coping for rapid recovery.

Large scale damaging events, often with pressures from the media, result in large amounts of international relief which leaves limited resources for the long-term recovery and rehabilitation. Continuity of support by agencies and donor governments beyond relief needs to be considered at early stages of allocating funds and other resources in a more balanced way. Articulation of rehabilitation and reconstruction needs into relief appeals and ways of integrating relief and long-term assistance also need to be explored.

While assessment of damage, needs and resources need to be specific and prioritized for the task at hand, i.e. relief, often rehabilitation and reconstruction decisions are based on these early data. This is partly due to the cost and time it takes to collect data and to meet the public demand to act rapidly. Ideally, it is necessary to monitor the changing needs as the situation develops. However, this may not be the case after most disasters. This common pattern needs to be recognized. Therefore, the drawbacks of early disaster assessment and the need to maximize the initial data collection must be taken into account in the planning of rehabilitation and reconstruction.

It is necessary to monitor the changing needs as the situation develops.

During the early stages of disaster response it is important to plan the co-ordination of data collection, multi-disciplinary assessment teams, and data generation for later phases. This will improve the quality and effectiveness of early information for rapid rehabilitation and reconstruction decisions. However, it should be remembered that as conditions change, decisions need to be modified in light of updated information. For example, after a major earthquake the number of homeless is often calculated in relation to damaged or destroyed buildings. However, due to the fear of after shocks, the public may refuse to go back to their surviving homes, which will increase the need for shelter provision beyond the initial assessment.

While it is important to recognize patterns from early diagnostic indicators for rapid response, decisions to effect long-term actions should not be taken in the haste of relief operations. Decisions such as relocation or provision of temporary shelters require careful examination of their long-term implications and consultation with the communities. There are many examples of temporary shelter provision as a response to an early identified need which eventually became permanent at great cost and often in wrong locations. Similarly, medical programs or food distribution should not be prolonged without monitoring of the changes at the local level.