Challenges of sustainable recovery processes in tsunami affected communities

Arnim Wiek, Robert Ries, Lanka Thabrew, Katja Brundiers, Anoja Wickramasinghe

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    26 Scopus citations


    Purpose: Sustainable housing and community recovery processes in the aftermath of tsunamis have to cope with direct impacts, such as fatalities, destroyed buildings, and loss of economic assets, as well as indirect impacts caused by shortcomings in recovery management. Recent studies on post-tsunami recovery tend to focus on direct impacts, ranging from monitoring to prevention studies. Less attention is paid to recovery as a complex bundle of multi-agent processes causing subsequent problems. Design/methodology/approach: The paper presents results from field studies evaluating post-tsunami recovery processes in Sri Lanka against the concept of sustainable housing and community recovery. Semi-structured observations and interviews were conducted on eight sites in the south-western part of Sri Lanka during field visits 2005-2006. The research involved beneficiaries and other citizens, representatives from government and administration, field workers (non-governmental organizations), and scientists. Findings: Empirical findings identify subsequent problems for specific capital forms, across different capital forms, and across different administrative levels. Moreover, critical issues refer to conceptualizing temporal horizons, comprehensive planning and decision making, stakeholders' involvement, and institutional embedding of recovery processes. Originality/value: Against this empirical background, the paper indicates improvement potentials referring to literature on comprehensive and adaptive planning to address the sustainable recovery challenges identified. The paper provides guidance for researchers, decision makers, planners, and field workers engaged in post-disaster sustainable development.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)423-437
    Number of pages15
    JournalDisaster Prevention and Management: An International Journal
    Issue number4
    StatePublished - Jan 1 2010


    • Disaster management
    • Social planning
    • Sri Lanka
    • Tidal waves

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Health(social science)
    • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
    • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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