Reformation of the Curricula on Built Environment in the Eastern Neighbouring Area

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Practice questions

  1. Write a list of where property and construction skills can add value to disaster management and recovery. Compare your list to Table 2 [Source: Max Lock Centre (2006) Mind the Gap, RICS, London]

  2. In 1991, the Development Assistance Committee of the OECD set out broad principles for evaluating humanitarian practice for its members. These were subsequently refined into widely used criteria for evaluating development initiatives and in 1999 into seven criteria (relevance/appropriateness, connectedness, coverage, efficiency, effectiveness and impact) adapted for the evaluation of complex emergencies.

Critically evaluate the OECD’s criteria as a means of evaluating humanitarian practice and consider the appropriateness of the criteria as a means of evaluating interventions aimed at reconstructing the built environment following a disaster

Further reading:

ALNAP (2006) Evaluating humanitarian action using the OECD-DAC criteria: An ALNAP guide for humanitarian agencies, Overseas Development Institute, London.
      1. References

ACHR (2005) Housing by People in Asia: Tsunami. News letter of the Asian Coalition for Housing Rights, No. 16, August 2005. Bangkok, Asian Coalition for Housing Rights (ACHR). .

Davis, I. (2005) What Makes a Disaster,, accessed on 18th December 2006.

Fox, A. (2002) Montserrat – a case study in the application of multiple methods to meet a post-disaster housing shortage, Proceedings of the First International Conference on Post-disaster Reconstruction: Improving post-disaster reconstruction in developing countries, 23-25 May, University of Montreal, Montreal.

Guzman, M. de (2002) The total disaster risk management approach: an introduction, paper presented at the Regional Workshop on Networking and Collaboration among NGOs of Asian Countries in Disaster Reduction and Response, 20-22 February, Kobe, Japan.

Jigyasu, R. (2004) Sustainable post-disaster reconstruction through integrated risk management, Proceedings of the Second International Conference on Post-disaster reconstruction: Planning for Reconstruction, 22-23 April, Coventry University, Coventry.

Karim, N. (2004) Options for floods and drought preparedness in Bangladesh, Proceedings of the Second International Conference on Post-disaster reconstruction: Planning for Reconstruction, 22-23 April, Coventry University, Coventry.

Levy, M. P., and Salvadori, M. (1992) Why Buildings Fall Down, W.W. Norton and Company, New York.

Lizarralde, G. and Boucher, M. (2004) Learning from post-disaster reconstruction for pre-disaster planning, Proceedings of the Second International Conference on Post-disaster Reconstruction: Planning for Reconstruction, 22-23 April, Coventry University, Coventry.

Mallonee, S., Shariat, S., Stennies, G., Waxweiler, R., Hogan, D. and Jordan, F. (1996) Physical injuries and fatalities resulting from the Oklahoma City bombing, Journal of the American Medical Association, 5, (276), 382-387.

National Research Council (1995) Protecting Buildings from Bomb Damage: Transfer of blast-effects mitigation technologies from military to civilian applications, National Academy Press, Washington DC.

Nikhileswarananda, S. (2004) Post disaster reconstruction work in Gujarat on behalf of Ramakrishna Mission, Proceedings of the Second International Conference on Post-disaster reconstruction: Planning for Reconstruction, 22-23 April, Coventry University, Coventry.

Ofori, G. (2002) Developing the construction industry to prevent and respond to disasters, Proceedings of the First International Conference on Post-disaster Reconstruction: Improving post-disaster reconstruction in developing countries, 23-25 May 2002, University of Montreal, Montreal.

Oxfam America, 2004 Cuba: Weathering the Storm: Learning in Risk Reduction for Cuba. Boston: Oxfam America. .

Oxfam International, 2005. A place to stay, a place to live: Challenges in providing shelter in India, Indonesia, and Sri Lanka after the tsunami. Oxford: Oxfam International. Available from .

Pena-Mora, W. (2005) Collaborative First Response to Disasters Involving Critical Physical Infrastructure. O’Neal Faculty Scholar Seminar, September 19, University of Illinois.

President's Commission on Critical Infrastructure Protection (1997) Critical Foundations: Protecting America's Infrastructures, PCCIP, Washington DC.

Sevin, E. and Little, R. (1998) Mitigating Terrorist Hazards, The Bridge, 28(3), 156-172.

UNDP (2004) A Global Report: Reducing Disaster Risk: A Challenge for Development. New York: United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery.

Warfield, C. (2008) The Disaster Management Cycle. (accessed on March 25, 2008).

World Bank (2001) World Bank and Asian Development Bank Complete Preliminary Gujarat Earthquake Damage Assessment and Recovery Plan,

Young, I. (2004) Monserrat: post volcano reconstruction and rehabiliation – a case study, Proceedings of the Second International Conference on Post-disaster reconstruction: Planning for Reconstruction, 22-23 April, Coventry University, Coventry.

    1. Learning Package 3- Reducing risk and continuity management

      1. Introduction to the learning package

This learning package focuses on the pre-disaster phases of the disaster management cycle, the ongoing processes by which governments, businesses, and civil society plan for and reduce the impact of disasters.
      1. Aim of the learning package

To provide opportunity for students to critically examine existing theory and practice in disaster mitigation and reconstruction of the built environment to assess problems and evaluate alternative solutions
      1. Key learning outcomes of the learning package

Knowledge and Understanding

On successful completion of this learning package, a student will be able to:

  • Judiciously apply strategies within the built environment to reduce risk and mitigate against the affects of a disaster
Transferable/Key Skills and other attributes

On completion of the module a student will have had the opportunity to:

  • Develop critical thinking, creativity and innovation related to disaster mitigation and reconstruction of the built environment

  • Synthesise information from a number of sources in order to gain a coherent understanding of relevant theory and practice

  • Work within an appropriate ethos and can use and access a range of learning resources

  • Consider the role of the built environment in society

  • Apply judiciously problem solving and lateral thinking in a variety of disaster situations

  • Adopt a methodological approach to problem solving

      1. Lecture notes and hand outs

        1. Lecture 1- Mitigation


Traditionally, researchers make a distinction between avoidance, mitigation and preparedness (see for example, Mileti, 1999). However, the more we reflect on how to deal with disasters the more we see a blurring of any such distinction. Relocating homes from a hurricane pathway constitutes avoidance, but is a traditional mitigation programme. Mitigating structures through reinforcement leaves them in the earthquake zone, but reduces the damage that subsequently occurs when the earthquake strikes. Preparedness ranges from a cache of 5 gallons of potable water and plastic sheeting to evacuation plans, and tries to reduce the secondary impacts once a disaster has occurred.

Disasters and development are inextricably linked, and while development planning has a long and well-established tradition, its ability to learn from disasters seems limited. Disaster planning by contrast is a relatively new field and its multidisciplinary approach has brought it to the boundaries of development planning.

Disaster planners have recognised the importance of greater integration with development planning in order to mitigate the effects of future disasters and to build greater resilience into urban communities. Disaster planning has its roots in sociological research (Stallings 2002). It has developed a multidisciplinary base, with strong inputs from the earth sciences, health and engineering sectors (Alexander, 2000, Lewis, 1999, MacRae, 1995, Yasemin et al 1995).

Fox (2004) argues that development planning has been slow to recognise the link and opportunity exists to build greater resilience into urban communities by strengthening the links between development and disaster planning. Implementing any change to the development planning process must overcome entrenched views and the vested interests belonging to those that control the development process.

Hazard mitigation can help turn natural disasters into natural hazard events. The people of any country can improve many of the consequences of events like floods, fires and earthquakes by mitigating actions such as enhanced building codes, better zoning and land use management, and building use regulations and safety codes. These examples offer but a few of the many mitigation activities and behaviours possible.

Mitigation will depend on the incorporation of appropriate measures in national and regional development planning. Its effectiveness will also depend on the availability of information on hazards, emergency risks, and the countermeasures to be taken. The mitigation phase, and indeed the whole disaster management cycle, includes the shaping of public policies and plans that either modify the causes of disasters or mitigate their effects on people, property, and infrastructure.

Cost Benefit Analysis of Mitigation

While many find the anticipatory and precautionary qualities of mitigation obvious, mitigation remains the poor relative to reactionary disaster relief and recovery. For example, the leading organisation in the United States for disaster mitigation, response and recovery, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), spent about $28 billion on recovery between 1988 and 2001 but less than 10 percent of that (about $2.6 billion) on mitigation over the same period.

Mitigation can only do so much to reduce the impact of both natural and man-created disasters, but the challenge currently facing both FEMA in the U.S. and other agencies around the world continues to be justifying expenditures on mitigation programs.

By its nature, most mitigation involves employing resources in advance of a disaster to reduce subsequent losses. As such, mitigation has a lot in common with an investment in which we trade present consumption possibilities for greater consumption in the future. This similarity also reveals a means by which we can assess the value of mitigation—by calculating the present value of expected future net benefits. Since mitigation commits resources today, before anything specific has happened, all those involved in the decision from budget officers through policy makers to taxpayers realize that any public and private money used to purchase hazard mitigation had alternative uses. We cannot simply assert the value of mitigation and similarly we cannot claim the desirability of more mitigation over less unless we provide evidence of such superiority. Those with the power to allocate money, both public and private, must provide justification for the expenditures they propose. Since both public and private budgets have limits, not all worthy projects and investments can be undertaken. Public officials must make choices between projects with varying degrees of local and national support. While political and social demand play very important roles in decisions to fund various mitigation projects, a method of measuring a project’s value is needed and practiced to provide at the very least a common and defensible basis for choosing one program over another.

Many proponents of disaster mitigation claim that it offers potential benefits in terms of saved lives and property far exceeding its costs. To provide evidence for this, and to justify the use of public funds, agencies involved in mitigation can use benefit cost analysis. Such analysis, if well done, offers a testable, defensible means of evaluating and comparing projects, it helps decision makers choose between mitigation projects, and provides a means to assess the way we spend public funds (Ganderton, 2003).

Traditional versus modern construction technologies

Research shows that adopting existing traditional technologies for post-disaster reconstruction helps to prevent the alienation of traditional values, contributes to the reinforcement of local self-confidence, reduces dependence on external aid, optimises the use of already well adapted solutions to local conditions and helps with the reactivation of the local economy. However, best-practice improvements are likely to be required by the community in order to guarantee long-term sustainability of the reconstruction.

In some past development initiatives involving the construction of infrastructure, the option of designing and building to reduce the vulnerability of infrastructure to natural hazards has often been ignored due to the perceived higher costs and lack of appropriate expertise. Furthermore, the selection of the location for services or critical facilities has often been made on the basis of land cost and availability, rather than from consideration of safety from potential natural hazards. Typically, development organisations rely on ‘best local practices’ in hiring contractors to undertake construction work. Problems arise when best local practice does not incorporate the use of any building codes for hazard resistance or uses building codes that inadequately account for local hazards. The latter type of code typically exists in countries where infrequent natural hazards occur or where there is an incomplete historical record of past natural disasters. This results in hazard or zoning maps that do not adequately represent the frequency of occurrence or potential magnitude of natural hazards. Even when appropriate building codes exist, their correct application requires skilled engineers, architects and builders and effective enforcement and inspection procedures. Poor governance and corruption, leading to, for example, abuse of land use controls and building permits and codes, and illegal expansion of buildings, often exacerbate damage caused by disasters. In addition, most developing countries lack certification and licensing processes for professionals and enforcement procedures are non-existent. Enforcement procedures have, however, also been found to be ineffective in some developed countries, as was highlighted by Hurricane Andrew (1992) in Florida, USA, and the Izmit earthquake (1999) in Turkey.

The adoption of best local practice and of opportunity-based land use can, therefore, lead to a promotion of existing weaknesses in buildings and infrastructure. Funding and development organisations alike need to ensure that experienced hazard specialists and engineers coordinate or implement construction projects (by either employing them directly or ensuring that the contracted work will be led by such people). This specialist (or team of experts, depending on the number of hazards and scale of the project) should set a framework for the design and construction, which may then be executed by other engineers, builders and workers.

Considerations for hazard risk reduction

Several organisations have suggested procedures for hazard-proof construction and strengthening initiatives based on the success or failure of projects they have been involved in. From a review of these procedures, engineering sources and successful past initiatives, Rossetto (2007) developed a summary of the considerations that need to be made in the appraisal stages of such a project.

Table 1: A summary of considerations to be made in the programming, identification and appraisal stages of a construction or strengthening project for hazard-risk reduction [Source: Rossetto, T. (2007) Construction Design, Building Standards and Site Selection, Guidance Note 12, ProVention Consortium Secretariat, Switzerland]


Key Considerations

Define roles and


  • Clearly define the roles and responsibilities with regard to the main aspects of the project (i.e., the hazard risk assessment, design and siting of appropriately hazard-resilient infrastructure, enforcement of design and quality control of construction, operation and maintenance) of the various individuals, agencies and organisations involved in the project:

  • Coordinate with other development or relief (humanitarian) organisations working in the area to avoid duplication of research effort into hazard-proof construction and to promote a harmonised use of hazard-proof construction standards

  • Set up a system of consultation and collaboration with engineers, academics, local government and the affected community

  • Ensure that engineers and other infrastructure service providers participate fully in the design of projects, rather than merely building/supplying to order

Hazard assessment

  • Assess the frequency and ‘size’ of all potential sources of natural hazards (geological, meteorological or hydrological) in the area and determine the most likely hazard scenarios for consideration in the infrastructure design:

  • Ideally, the development organisation’s country strategy paper should already provide some overview of the significance of disaster risk in a particular country

  • Existing academic studies and hazard maps may provide information for the hazard evaluation. However, depending on the prevalent hazards and the site, it may also be necessary to conduct site-specific risk analysis or micro-zonation studies

  • The possibility of local secondary effects (e.g., landslides from excessive rain or ground shaking) should be considered

Review of

legislation and

good practice

  • Assess existing codes of practice for hazard resistance and determine whether they are adequate for use:

  • Ideally, this review would have already been completed at the national level, by a development organisation or by a local research/academic body. This can then be drawn upon as relevant to the specific project context

  • If an existing review does not exist, effort must be spent in researching existing codes of practice for hazard resistance. This exercise might include:

  • Exploring the history of the code development and level of hazard inclusion

  • Looking at the performance of buildings/infrastructure designed to the codes during past hazard events

  • Comparing loading and design criteria to building codes developed for countries with similar hazards and neighbouring countries with similar construction practice

  • Reviewing good practice and international building codes, designing guidelines appropriate to the identified hazards and assessing their applicability

Review of construction methodologies and local capacity

  • Identify the main local construction practices for the relevant type of infrastructure. A fairly rapid assessment may be made in the case of new constructions, but a more detailed analysis is required in a retrofitting project:

  • Weaknesses in the structures and the vulnerability of infrastructure to the identified natural hazards must be assessed. This will be obvious in a post-disaster scenario. This may include a study of the rate of degradation of the structure and its materials over time to assess resilience against projected hazards

  • The strengths and durability of materials need to be determined

  • Identify who carries out the design and construction (engineered, non-engineered, self-build or contractor build) and the level of code compliance

  • Assess the resistance of local construction to the determined hazards and the level of risk these pose

Set hazard safety objectives

  • Establish clear and measurable objectives for hazard-safety, based on the level of risk that can be supported by the affected public and government agencies. Take into account development agency accountability issues

  • Consider different performance objectives for critical facilities and infrastructure, in particular factoring in the potential impact on the users or clients who would be negatively affected to varying extents by loss of service

Site selection

  • The site for development will typically be defined by local government based on availability and economic criteria. The suitability of these sites needs to be assessed. Any hazard assessments carried out in previous stages should also be considered

  • Determine whether additional works are required to render the site viable for development or whether land use should be restricted to reduce vulnerability to natural hazards

  • Consider whether re-siting to a location of reduced risk is an option:

  • Topographical features and landscape can be used to reduce the impact of potential natural hazards (e.g., to minimise flood risk or modify wind-speed and wind direction)

  • Land swaps might be a potential solution in collaboration with local government, although there is probably a stronger track record in terms of environmental protection

Design and procurement

  • Design a sustainable and socially acceptable strengthening/building solution that satisfies the hazard safety objectives:

  • Consider limitations of finance, construction skills and material availability

  • In a strengthening initiative take into account disruption to normal activity

  • Ensure that the environmental and social impacts of the proposed solution are acceptable

  • Ensure (e.g., through testing and research) that the proposed solution will yield the performance objectives determined in the previous step

  • Develop a procurement strategy that provides overall value for money and resources during the entire life of the service/facility

  • Assess the competency of the contractor:

  • Consider the level of necessary site supervision

  • Address any skills training issues necessary for the implementation of the proposed solution (e.g., possible on-the-job training included in the implementation stage)

  • Develop building aids and guidelines, accounting for local hazard conditions, building material characteristics, construction skills and quality, using the results of the studies above


  • It is essential that the quality of the construction does not compromise the design intent. A procedure must therefore be established for the multidisciplinary inspection and checking against specifications of works throughout the building process:

  • Test materials and check adherence to design guidelines

  • Ensure implementation of the quality assurance system

Operation and maintenance

  • Guidelines for operation and maintenance should be provided to maintain the design level of hazard resilience

  • Set up a funding and management structure for operation and maintenance

  • Define a procedure to be followed for the approval of any structural alterations carried out through the design life of the structure


  • The adequacy of the chosen infrastructure design and the success of the project as a whole must be carried out. The many considerations include:

  • Functionality, social acceptability and sustainability

  • Project cost with respect to the potential benefits of hazard-proof design in future events, of any skills provided to builders and of new construction guidelines introduced

  • Reporting of the performance of the infrastructure under any hazard events that have occurred

  • Lessons learned regarding strengthening hazard resilience should be summarised, divulged and drawn on for future projects
Critical success factors for safer construction

Rossetto (2007) also identifies some critical factors that need to be addressed for ensuring the successful mainstreaming of safer construction are [Source: Rossetto, T. (2007) Construction Design, Building Standards and Site Selection, Guidance Note 12, ProVention Consortium Secretariat, Switzerland]:

Incorporating design checks, enforcement and quality control: Appropriate policies, effective implementation measures and relevantly trained technical personnel are necessary for the checking of designs, enforcement of good building practices and inspection of construction quality throughout the building process. Effective checking of designs cannot be carried out by individuals less knowledgeable and less experienced than the designers. The satisfaction of quality goals can be tied to criteria for payment, schedules for contractors and performance bonds. Enforcement and quality control are generally the weakest part of the system, often due to lack of human and financial resources allocated to this function and political interference with the regulatory system. However, it is estimated that checking and monitoring of the design and construction of infrastructure amounts to an additional cost of 1 to 2 per cent of the construction cost. This is a small sum if it is considered spread over the lifetime of the construction and to be offset by maintenance cost savings.

Consultation of hazard and construction experts: A major factor for the success and mainstreaming of hazard-proof measures in development construction projects is the recognition by development and funding agencies that hazard specialists and civil/structural engineers need to be engaged in the coordination and design of the project and construction works. A small input by such people at the outset of the project can ensure that the design incorporates the correct levels of risk and that appropriate technical solutions/construction practice are being employed. Lack of expert involvement and reliance on best local practice can lead to the re-creation or promotion of vulnerability.

Land use planning and improving building codes for hazard-resistance: Development organisations may need to provide support to governments, professional institutions and other national bodies to improve hazard assessment and representation in building codes, adjust codes to account for increasing hazards due to climate change (if codes were based on historical precedent), and improve structural design criteria and land use zoning.

Improving practice: In developing countries, technical guidance, training and education may need to be provided to local engineers, builders and architects. This requires cooperation with hazard-proof construction experts for the development of appropriate educational and training materials and appropriately trained technical people to transfer the knowledge. A recent example of such a project was the GOAL Pakistan housing construction training following the 2005 earthquake.

Encouraging local uptake and community participation: Unsuccessful development schemes involving hazard-proof construction (or strengthening) of housing have mainly failed due to a lack of local take-up. This has occurred mostly when the proposed strengthening, building or repair techniques have been developed without consulting the affected community and are, therefore, unsustainable and do not meet local needs. Common faults are that the proposed solutions are too expensive or adopt new materials and building techniques for which local construction skills are inadequate, or that the materials and forms introduced are socially, economically, culturally or climatically inappropriate.

Guidelines for performance-based design of structures subject to natural hazards with different recurrence: This involves the determination of acceptable risk levels for different types of structures, on the basis of their desired performance in the case of a range of frequencies of occurrence of natural hazards. This concept, proposed in the earthquake engineering field, should be extended to include multiple hazards and policies introduced to ensure that schools and hospitals are designed for increased hazard resistance. Risk posed by the failure of non-structural components (e.g., the loss of a facility’s serviceability due to damage to equipment) should also be considered when doing this. Consideration of desired post-natural hazard event performance at the design stage would result in the prioritisation and more stringent design of hospitals, schools and other critical infrastructure.

Adequate operation and maintenance expenditure: This is required to maintain the designed hazard-resilience of infrastructure. The annual maintenance budget for a public building will be about 4 per cent of its contemporary capital cost. Funding for operation and maintenance may with time be diverted to other uses. This may result in the facility no longer being suitable for normal use and its increased vulnerability to natural hazards. A method for ensuring continued operation and maintenance expenditure is to link it to insurance, which would cover the eventual damage due to a natural hazard if the infrastructure were maintained.

Promoting research into non-engineered structures and the effects of natural hazards: There is a need for a better understanding of the performance under natural hazard events of non-engineered structures and traditional building materials and technologies. The effects of different natural hazards on buildings have been researched to different degrees. Cyclones, typhoons, storms, floods, landslides and earthquakes have been the subject of active research. But recent events in the Indian Ocean have highlighted the lack of research into the effects of violent flows and tsunami on the built environment.

A technological solution is insufficient on its own: Hazard-proof construction is only one part of disaster-risk mitigation project and must be linked to other types of risk reduction, including evacuation planning and other community preparedness measures.
        1. Practice questions

  1. An entire review of the theoretical basis for cost benefit analysis or detailed instructions on its practice are beyond the scope of this workbook.

For a critical overview of the more contentious issues and latest developments in cost benefit analysis, read Ganderton’s (2003) paper entitled, Benefit-Cost Analysis of Disaster Mitigation: A Review, which emphasises the pragmatic choices that one can make in accordance with good practice in project evaluation.

Discuss the challenges associated with using cost benefit analysis to evaluate whether to proceed with a mitigation project in a developing country.

  1. Compare and contrast the use of traditional local construction technology with modern construction technologies, as a means for reducing risk through safer construction.

  1. Read Case Study 1: Flood and Typhoon-Resilient Homes through Cost-Effective Retrofitting in Vietnam. Evaluate the retrofitting scheme against Rossetto’s (2007) critical success factors for successful mainstreaming of safer construction.
Case Study 1: Flood and Typhoon-Resilient Homes through Cost-Effective Retrofitting in Vietnam

[Source: ISDR (2007) Building Disaster Resilient Communities Good Practices and Lessons Learned: A Publication of the “Global Network of NGOs” for Disaster Risk Reduction]

Image: A model house travels to the communes to show safe construction techniques

Vietnam's disaster risk reduction strategy pays insufficient attention to the capacity of families and local communities to play a key role. Top-down approaches need to mesh with community-based disaster risk reduction potential.

A Development Workshop France (DWF) programme efficiently demonstrates that communities can be a dynamic force in reducing risks directly related to local contexts, and that their potential can be mobilised through participatory commune-level disaster risk reduction planning, training and outreach, and preventive strengthening of housing and public buildings.

The DWF Programme seeks to help reduce the impact of typhoons and floods on housing and public buildings; loss of housing being specifically a major family setback with repercussions on all other aspects of family life and development.

The Programme is practical, efficient and cost effective. Even though financial institutions have not taken up yet the idea of granting credit to people concerned, many families and communities immediately put their money into it after seeing its concrete and tangible results.


This initiative is a disaster reduction programme aiming to reduce the impact of typhoons and floods on housing; loss of housing being a major family setback with repercussions on all other aspects of family life and development. The Programme kicked off in 1999 and is still continuing with further phases planned. Phases 1 and 2 were implemented from 1999 to

2003 funded by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), and Phases 3, 4 and 5 supported by the European Commission Humanitarian aid Office (ECHO) through its Disaster Preparedness programme known as DIPECHO (Disaster Preparedness, European Commission Humanitarian aid Office). The current phase runs through to 2008.

Implemented by Development Workshop France (DWF) in collaboration with the Thua Thien Hué Construction Consultants Stock Company, the Programme has been run in Thua Thien Hué (TTH) Province in Central Vietnam, involving over 100,000 people annually in awareness campaigns, including: commune, district and provincial people's committees; some 600 teachers; 1,500 school children; and 550 builders. The programme targets every year some 4,000 direct beneficiaries, including some 250 families.

Goal and objectives

The initiative has been launched because Vietnam's disaster risk reduction strategy pays insufficient attention to the capacity of families and local communities to play a key role, suggesting that top-down approaches should mesh with community-based disaster risk reduction potential. The other reason for launching the initiative is to reduce the general impact of loss of housing caused by typhoons and floods.
Outcomes and activities

Based on risk identification and the need to show how preventive action can reduce the identified risks, the Programme involves local and grassroots consultation and preventive action planning. Its central theme is to make families and the community active players in the process of reducing the vulnerability through the integration of storm resistant techniques in existing and future building. Demonstration and training have equally been key components of the Programme's strategy.

DWF promotes the preventive strengthening of existing houses and public buildings based on ten essentially generic key principles of typhoon resistant construction. It encourages the application of these same principles to the construction of new buildings by both government and the private sector and in particular as part of the Vietnam Government's "Temporary House Replacement" programmes that aim to provide a more secure environment in which the extremely poor can improve their situation.

Each of the ten key points of typhoon resistant construction describes a principle that either reduces the risk of damage to the building structure or reduces the risk of loss of materials, such as roof covering. For example, the veranda roof (a high risk item) should be structurally separate from the main roof of the house. The connections between all individual parts of the structure, from the ground to the ridge, have to be strong. Doors and shutters should allow the building to be closed up. All parts of the roof and wall structure must be firmly connected. Roof sheets or tiles must be held or tied down. Trees should be planted to form wind breaks. The ten key points can be applied to almost any type of building in the communes, regardless of the type of structure or the type of materials that have been used. All but the frailest of houses can be strengthened.

The average cost of preventive strengthening is 250 $ per house. Since the start of the programme families have always contributed to such preventive action, covering some 60% of the costs. From 2002 DWF has piloted the provision of credit for house strengthening, and families have amply demonstrated that they will borrow and repay these short term loans (18 months) to cover part of the costs.

Overall, the Programme shows that preventive strengthening of housing and public buildings is viable, cheap and effective. As hundreds of families have participated, the impact is now both popular - people now trust the approach - and official - provincial authorities have issued orders telling people to apply the DWF prevention approach. Last but not least, Typhoon Xangsang in 2006 clearly demonstrated that the DWF approach works.

Good practice

The DWF programme is a good practice because it is both practical and efficient. This is evidenced by the fact that families and communities immediately put their money into the DWF approach after seeing its concrete and tangible results. One innovative aspect of the Programme is the key role of participatory communication actions that involve people from all levels in getting the prevention message across. Another innovation is the demonstrative value of showing how housing and public buildings can be made to resist disasters. The third innovation consists in showing that the whole process is economically viable. A long-term success/failure factor of this initiative may be the fact that financial institutions have not taken up the idea of granting credit for preventive strengthening of houses, yet the idea has been well received by beneficiary families. This issue still has to be addressed. A possible link with disaster insurance should be explored.

The key lessons learned from this initiative are:

  • Once convinced, people and families are well prepared to commit their own funds to take preventive action to reduce the risk of loss or damage to their own homes;

  • Community residents can give equal treatment to community facilities and public facilities as long as the "common good" dimension is perceived ; and

  • Scepticism about the value of retrofitting houses has been replaced by confidence.

The major challenge is that government policies consider disaster risk reduction (DRR) in macro topdown terms and dismiss the capacity and needs of local communities and families. They do not perceive them as possible key partners in DRR. As a result, national financial commitment does not cover local needs and families have to find their own resources.
Potential for replication

Replicating this practice is easy. DWF has done so in Indonesia (Banda Aceh), and has a long history of training local builders to integrate disaster resistant construction techniques into building as far afield as Iran, Afghanistan and in the Republic of Guinea in Africa.

Some characteristics of the Programme are context specific, but the approach applied in this DWF Programme has been tested in other countries and it works in different contexts.

        1. Lecture 2- Preparedness

The goal of emergency preparedness programs is to achieve a satisfactory level of readiness to respond to any emergency situation through programmes that strengthen the technical and managerial capacity of governments, organisations, and communities. These measures can be described as logistical readiness to deal with disasters and can be enhanced by having response mechanisms and procedures, rehearsals, developing long-term and short-term strategies, public education and building early warning systems. Preparedness can also take the form of ensuring that strategic reserves of food, equipment, water, medicines and other essentials are maintained in cases of national or local catastrophes.

During the preparedness phase, governments, organisations, and individuals develop plans to save lives, minimise disaster damage, and enhance disaster response operations. Preparedness measures include preparedness plans; emergency exercises/training; warning systems; emergency communications systems; evacuations plans and training; resource inventories; emergency personnel/contact lists; mutual aid agreements; and public information/education. As with mitigations efforts, preparedness actions depend on the incorporation of appropriate measures in national and regional development plans. In addition, their effectiveness depends on the availability of information on hazards, emergency risks and the countermeasures to be taken, and on the degree to which government agencies, non-governmental organisations and the general public are able to make use of this information.

The recovery process

Recovery is an integral part of the comprehensive emergency management process. It refers to all activities that are carried out immediately after the initial response to a disaster situation. This will usually extend until the community’s capacity for self-help has been restored. In other words, the end-state is when the assisted community reaches a level of functioning where it is able to sustain itself in the absence of further external intervention.

The effectiveness of the process will depend on how much planning has been carried out and what contingencies are provided for in preparing for the disaster. It is expected that recovery and reconstruction works will restore the affected community in all aspects of its natural, built, social and economic environment.

The recovery process may present an opportunity for improvement in the functioning of the community, so that risk from future events can be reduced while the community becomes more resilient.

Recovery is an enabling and supportive process, thus the heart of recovery is community participation. Consultation and communication is encouraged especially in identifying community needs and for collective decision making amongst all stakeholders. This way all stakeholders understand the process and their commitment towards agreed objectives is ensured.

The preparedness plan

To support management of disasters, national plans and strategies should be established to set out goals and objectives for preparedness and response activities. The concepts of planning and strategising are usually used interchangeably while the products of each process may actually differ. The strategy is a broad exercise defining the roles of key agencies in vital functions, assessing their response capacities and promoting improvements and activities to minimize the impact of disasters. A contingency or preparedness plan describes the means to address a disaster within a specific time frame and details the mechanisms for operations planning at the onset of a potential disaster. Typical contents of a disaster plan may include:

1. A policy statement

2. Legislative authority for the design and implementation of the disaster plan

3. Objectives of the plans and conditions under which it will come into force

4. Assessment of community disaster risks

5. Disaster scenarios based on past experiences and present risks

6. Roles and relationships with each level of government especially emergency related bodies

7. Organisation chart of lines of authority

8. List of names, addresses, telephone and fax numbers, and email addresses of all relevant agencies and their heads and deputies

9. Operations of warning systems

10. Preparedness preparations (agency roles, emergency evacuation procedures, search and rescue, shelters, disaster control centers, medical facilities, relief assistance, etc.)

11. Communications arrangements and telecommunications equipment and procedures

12. Public information program

13. Recovery and reconstruction resources and mechanisms

14. Disaster assessment plan

15. Agreements and linkages with other regions and countries

16. Testing and evaluation of the plan

17. Revision and distribution of the plan

Countries without an overarching national preparedness plan risk erratic response. While national plans do not lessen the importance of detailed provincial plans, they provide a systematic approach to disaster preparedness and can support and enhance the provincial planning process. Provincial plans need to be interlocked with the national plan in a consistent and complementary manner. Despite a multiplicity of hazards, standardized procedures are essential for community warning and can relate to such processes as needs assessment, evacuation planning, definition of roles, release of resources and lines of authority.

The exercise of formulating and updating the plan can also be of great value as an awareness-raising tool for all those involved in the planning process. Revision and rehearsal are critical for an effective national plan and without revision, the plan will soon become outdated. Plans can also be tested through simulation exercises. The development and maintenance of a plan requires funding, staff and political resolve.

Typical recommendations for establishing preparedness strategies and plans include:

  • Plans should be comprehensive covering all potential disaster types and all phases of disaster management.

  • Plans should encompass a strategic type of planning to improve capacities as well as contingency planning for disaster relief and recovery operations.

  • A national plan should be established, regardless of whether local or regional plans have been developed. Local and regional plans should be interwoven as part of the national plan.

  • The national plan should consider resources available or those that could be shared regionally and in particular where the same disaster may affect bordering countries.
Legislation and policy

To exercise a disaster preparedness strategy, agencies must be supported by policies, legislation, and agreements as well as resources. While the forms of legal backing or other support for national policies is a matter of government choice, these should cover such issues as the: acceptance and importation of national assistance; agreements or laws regarding the authority delegated to the involved institutions; allocation of national resources to disaster management; objectives and standards for relief distribution; specific procedures for implementation of preparedness, mitigation and response activities with assigned responsibilities; and, procedures for including the use of the military or civil defence agencies to address the disasters.

Supporting arrangements can take the following forms:

  • Agreements - are based on sets of actions to be taken by parties to the agreements and may be binding or non-binding in the legal sense; also they may be called memorandum of understanding (MOU)

  • Codes - depict a set of actions or behaviours which are acceptable to parties to the code or may be enforceable as requirements for safety; a code may set out parameters or standards for construction, usage of natural resources, use of relief assistance, etc. (Example: Building codes for earthquake resistance)

  • Laws - bind the parties that have signed them, impose limitations, or confer rights upon bodies that are included in the law; laws often include the penalties for failure to uphold the law.

  • Policies - represent objectives, such as political and development objectives; represents the outlook of senior members of government or agencies. The national policy indicates the government’s choices for dealing with disasters and indicates the acceptance of responsibility for the results that may occur due to limitations in the policy.

  • Other - forms of official recognition of arrangements can include acts, edicts and decrees. The steps for implementing the national policy should be set out in the plan or strategy.

Legislation and agreements, etc., should be developed to support the implementation and closely tied to the plan.
Continuity management

Although much of the literature on preparedness focuses upon national plans, individual organisations should also develop plans to save lives, minimise damage to infrastructure and critical assets, and enhance response operations. Business Continuity Management (BCM) is a holistic management process that identifies potential impacts that threaten an organisation and provides a framework for building resilience and the capability for an effective response that safeguards the interests of its key stakeholders, reputation, brand and value creating activities.

BCM must be owned and integrated into the organisation as an embedded management process. BCM aims to improve an organisation’s resilience. By identifying, in advance, the potential impacts of a wide variety of sudden disruptions to the organisation’s ability to succeed it is able to prioritise the efforts of various other specialists aiming to achieve resilience in their areas of expertise such as security, facilities and IT.

While concerned with all scales of resilience, BCM is particularly concerned with developing organisation-wide resilience allowing an organisation to survive the loss of part or all of its operational capability. It should also look at surviving significant losses of resources such as staff or equipment. Because an organisation’s BCM resilience depends on its management and operational staff as well as technology and geographical diversity, this resilience must be developed throughout the organisation from senior management to operational workforce and across all sites and the supply chain.

The driver for this organisational resilience is the responsibility the senior management have for the long-term interests of the staff, customers and all those who depend on the organisation in some way. Whilst it may be possible to calculate the financial losses of disruption the most significant impact is usually in damaged reputation or loss of trust that results from a mismanaged incident. Conversely a well-managed incident can enhance the reputation of the organisation and its management team.

In managing any event, a successful outcome is judged by both the technical response and the perceived competence of the management. Research by Knight and Pretty (1996) indicates that organisations affected by catastrophes fall into two distinct groups – “recoverers” and “non-recoverers”. Where an organisation has successfully dealt with a crisis their share value has increased in the long-term in contrast to those who were perceived not to have managed the crisis well whose share price declined and, after a year, had still not recovered. More recent research has shown that those organisations which budget most on risk, BCM and governance are the most profitable companies in their sector suggesting that BCM is an investment not a cost.

The Business Continuity Institute (BCI) provide a generic framework for successful Business Continuity Management by providing an approach, which a BC practitioner can use to inform his/her own business programme. The BCI Good Practice Guidelines are designed to provide assistance in understanding through the application of six Business Continuity Management stages. With these six principles, the process and terminology of Business Continuity Management is explained plus recommendations for good practice are provided. The guidelines aim to be applicable to all organisations, regardless of size or industry sector, and are intended for use by business continuity management practitioners, risk managers auditors and regulators.

        1. Practice questions

  1. Read Coles’ (2004) paper on a systems perspective on United Kingdom national vulnerability: the policy agenda and Critically examine the policy agenda in the UK aimed at increasing its resilience to disasters. What weaknesses within the proposed arrangements can you identify if vulnerability of the built environment is to be reduced and resilience achieved.

      1. References

Alexander, D. (2000) Confronting Catastrophe. London, Terra.

Coles, E. (2004) A systems perspective on United Kingdom national vulnerability: the policy agenda. Proceedings of the Second International Conference on Post-disaster Reconstruction: Improving post-disaster reconstruction in developing countries, April 22-23, 2004, Coventry, UK.

FEMA (1997) Capability Assessment for Readiness,

Fox, A. (2004) Planning for Improved Resilience. Proceedings of the Second International Conference on Post-disaster Reconstruction: Improving post-disaster reconstruction in developing countries, April 22-23, 2004, Coventry, UK.

Ganderton, P. (2003) Benefit-Cost Analysis of Disaster Mitigation: A Review, Economics Department, University of New Mexico.

ISDR (2007) Building Disaster Resilient Communities Good Practices and Lessons Learned, A Publication of the “Global Network of NGOs” for Disaster Risk Reduction.

Karim, N. (2004) Options for cyclone protection: Bangladesh context, Proceedings of the Second International Conference on Post-disaster Reconstruction: Improving post-disaster reconstruction in developing countries, April 22-23, 2004, Coventry, UK.

Knight, R. and Pretty, D. (1996) The Impact of Catastrophes on Shareholders Value, Oxford University.

Lewis, J. (1999) Development in Disaster Prone Places, ITDG, London.

MacRae, J. (1995) Dilemmas of post-conflict transition - Lessons from the Health Sector, London.

Mileti, D. (1999) Disasters by Design, Joseph Henry Press, Washington DC.

Rossetto, T. (2007) Construction Design, Building Standards and Site Selection, Guidance Note 12, ProVention Consortium Secretariat, Switzerland

Saunders, W. (2008) Urban Design and Natural Hazard Mitigation, Proceedings of the Fourth International Conference on Post-disaster Reconstruction: Building resilience: Achieving effective post-disaster reconstruction, April 30-May 1, 2008, Canterbury, New Zealand.

Stallings R. ed (2002) Methods of Disaster Research, Xlibris, USA.

Yasemin A. et al. (1995) Developing building for safety programmes, ITDG, London.

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