Kaikoura’s Post-Disaster Recovery and the Build Back Better Framework

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climate adaptation kaikoura new zealand

The need for a Post-Disaster Recovery framework has never been more critical in the face of increased risk and threats we are facing due to climate change and natural disasters.   

A successful post-disaster recovery framework address rehabilitation of physical structures and the psychological, social, and economic recovery of communities, making it a holistic approach.

In 2016 a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Kaikoura, a small tourism-based town on the east coast of New Zealand’s South Island. The event caused 80,00 landslides, damaged buildings, injured 50 people, and killed two people.

Damage to infrastructures like roads, bridges, rail, and ports was also severe. In fact, the town was isolated from the rest of the country for 2 days because of this, making it very challenging to send immediate support and relief following the disaster.

Aside from earthquakes, the town is also susceptible to wildfires and landslides, hazards that climate scientists project to increase in severity and frequency due to climate change.

The study examined Kaikoura’s post-disaster socio-economic activities and its best-practice psychosocial and economic recovery indicators.

The paper also evaluates the framework’s applicability and usefulness in future post-disaster recovery planning.

About the BBB Framework

The Build Back Better Framework is developed by Sandeeka Mannakarra and Suzanne Wilkinson based on the Build Back Better concept, covering all of its features for a resilient post-disaster recovery of communities affected by disasters.

The framework consists of three approaches – Disaster Risk Reduction, Community Recovery, and Effective Implementation. Each approach contains eight BBB principles described in the study.

Community Recovery, the second dimension, is the focus of the research and refers to the psycho-social and economic support given to those impacted by a disaster.

Why are psychosocial and economic aspects necessary in the post-disaster recovery process?

To explain why the psychosocial and economic aspects are crucial post-disaster recovery elements, the researchers referred to Chang, Wilkinson, Potangaroa, and Seville’s study.

After the 2009 Victorian bushfire, the trauma and social changes that the community experienced hampered the housing rebuilding and recovery process, causing them to be indecisive, confused, and unable to move.

The study provides examples of how psychosocial and economic support by the central government and institutions is critical in helping communities recover successfully after a disaster citing the Indonesian government’s psychosocial support extended to Yogyakarta province after the 2006 earthquake the 2010 volcanic eruption.

Following the wake of the destruction of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the US government provided economic support in the form of bonuses and wages to facilitate rebuild in Louisiana.

A sense of ownership by the community in the post-disaster recovery efforts by allowing them to have a say in any restoration decisions and plans will also lead to a successful post-disaster recovery operation.

The study also features the importance of having legislation and policies in place to support post-disaster recovery measures. The government can even take this step further by creating future economic opportunities for the communities to help in their long-term recovery.

The study highlights Kaikoura’s best practices regarding its post-earthquake psychological and social recovery. After a disaster, the community requires support at various levels.

When the earthquake struck Kaikoura, the community of 3800 was disconnected from the rest of the country for two days due to road and rail network damages, and disruption at the seafloor makes it hard for relief ships to reach the community.

Consequently, the Kaikoura District Council welcomed the chance to use the Build Back Better Framework for their post-disaster recovery efforts and make the city more resilient to future disasters.

The study finds that Kaikoura’s psychosocial and economic post-disaster recovery aligned with the BBB Framework indicators and how relevant it is in assessing and planning for its recovery. Psychological, social wellbeing and recovery were central to Kaikoura’s recovery implemented by their local council.

Examples of these actions include providing psychological counselling services to reach out to affected households, free legal advice on insurance, rebuild, and other queries related to housing that communities need, and earthquake and other community funds to support the recovery of the local community.

Overall, the study participants, those who were involved and implemented the post-disaster recovery operations in Kaikoura, have agreed that the BBB indicators for psychosocial and economic recovery were valuable and applicable for a positive outcome for Kaikoura.

To read the entire study, click the link below:

Source Citation:

Neeraj, S., Mannakkara,S., & Wilkinson, S. (2020, January 6). Evaluating socio-economic recovery as part of building back better in Kaikoura, New Zealand, International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, Volume 52, 2021, 101930, ISSN 2212-4209, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijdrr.2020.101930

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