PCR TOOL 2
Reconstruction after disaster poses a number of
challenges. Many problems and difficult issues can
be resolved by stakeholders talking to each other.
Communities themselves often have a wealth of
indigenous knowledge, accumulated over many
years through experience. A lot of that knowledge
can be very valuable in reconstruction. In addition,
any society has members who are known for their
specialist knowledge of certain issues, and who are
frequently consulted by community members, if
they have to resolve such issues. These could, for
instance, be local builders, teachers, administrators
or charity workers; seeking them out as sources
of information does pay off too. Within this
context, reconstruction practitioners bring their
own knowledge and experience. Combining all
these sources of knowledge usually does advance
reconstruction a long way.
However, sometimes a problem arises, that
none of the stakeholders have the knowledge to
resolve. In such cases, finding information from
outside the stakeholder group is important, and it
will often be up to the supporting agency to find it;
this tool helps practitioners do so, in a generic way.
Each reconstruction activity has different needs for
specific information; it is impossible to cover such
specific requirements in a small tool. What this tool
sets out to do, therefore, is to point practitioners
in the direction of potential sources of information.
In doing so, the tool considers mainly Anglophone
information resources; at the local level,
practitioners will often be able to complement
these with resources in other languages.
Flood shelter under construction at Mahadevtar, Chitwan,
Nepal, designed and built with the community. It is used as an
education centre in normal times; the murals inform people on
what to do in the case of floods.
Principles of information sharing
1. People-centred reconstruction (PCR) aims to
empower the people affected by disasters,
so as to reduce their vulnerability to future
hazards. This has to start with practitioners
respecting local people and their indigenous
knowledge, and making an effort to enable
people to learn from the reconstruction
process and increase that knowledge.
2. Practitioners offering external information to
disaster-affected communities should do so
in the spirit of enabling those communities
to make informed choices on recovery or
reconstruction. They should therefore try to
offer a set of options, e.g. on how to build,
and then guide people to select preferences
amongst those in an impartial way.
3. Information needs to be communicated to
affected people in formats they can easily
understand. For more on this see Tool no.9:
Communicating better building.
4. Building back better to mitigate the risks of
future disasters is important. This requires
developing a better understanding and raising
awareness of the various disaster risks and
how these can be mitigated. The most recent
disaster is what is most in people’s minds;
that is why in Aceh, initial reconstruction
wrongly paid much more attention to the risks
of tsunamis that that of earthquakes, which
are much more frequent.
5. In order to become less vulnerable to future
hazards, communities need information
not just on reconstruction but also on
livelihoods recovery, and to develop a better
understanding of the relation between
livelihoods, vulnerabilities and disasters.
6. Practitioners have to address the needs of
all groups within the communities they are
working with, and particularly those of the
most vulnerable, including tenants, squatters,
people who have lost family members, and
the disabled. Some of those groups may
require specific information targeted to their