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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 1 - Scope of rehabilitation and reconstruction
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentNature of the disaster
View the documentScale of the damage
View the documentLocation of the event
View the documentSectors affected
View the documentLosses
View the documentResulting needs
View the documentAvailable resources
View the documentPolitical commitment
View the documentActors involved in the reconstruction
View the documentSummary

Scale of the damage

The scale and location of the disaster damage are critical in understanding the type of inputs required for rehabilitation and reconstruction. The ratio of what is lost or damaged to what has survived influences the nature of recovery. A localized event which affects a relatively limited area in a country, for example an earthquake in a city, needs to be treated in a different manner than a situation where the whole country might be affected by a devastating event for example a hurricane which hits a small island. In a large country it is likely that there will be adequate surviving material and human resources, and facilities to rehabilitate the situation whereas for a small country the same event may result in the loss of most facilities and resources that are needed for rehabilitation and reconstruction. A thorough evaluation of the local and national resources is essential before determining what is needed to be provided from outside.


In 1985 a major earthquake devastated Mexico City, which had a population of 18 million at the time. Despite the scale of damage, the affected area was only a small part of the city. There was heavy damage to medical facilities, however, 75,000 injuries were treated in the first 72 hours through surviving private and public health facilities in the city. Damaged water supply and electricity systems were repaired within a few weeks of the earthquake. About 20,000 families were moved into available rental property in the city with government aid, or stayed with relatives and friends in the city or other parts of Mexico until reconstruction was completed. Much of the initial rehabilitation was achieved by the resources available within the country.


After hurricane Bebe Struck Fiji in 1972, a limited number of tents were available but it soon became clear that more would be needed. Two weeks after the storm, a great many people were still without adequate accommodation. This problem was overcome by the arrival of 1,050 tents from the USA. Following cyclones Meli, Tia-Wally and Arthur, 95 per cent of food assistance originated from international donors.