Opportunities for sustainable community development in the wake of disaster situations: Lessons from the field

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The paper focuses on development of sustainable post-disaster intervention strategies and guidelines for implementation. It proposes the examination of post-disaster rescue, relief, recovery, and reconstruction phases as a continuum, based on the assumption that each phase presents opportunities for community development. It advocates that local as well as international organizations should be both responsive to immediate needs and pro-active, to facilitate sustainable community development processes. It hones in on the practical question: how can various change agents ensure that the window of opportunity that opens following a disaster is actualized and also generates sustainable development. It presents several physical and socio-political “opportunities” and suggests an analytical framework. The identified physical and socio-political opportunities include: planning and zoning, technological innovations, community integration, inter-group conflict, long-term development, and disaster management. The analytical framework comprises the following components: solidarity, integration, linkages, social entrepreneurship, leadership, and community development vision. In order to identify and illustrate opportunities and factors, data have been gathered from postdisaster interventions following the tsunami in India, Thailand, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia (2004); the earthquake in Pakistan (2005); the cyclone in Myanmar (2008); and the floods in Bangladesh (2008). The paper concludes with recommendations for community practitioners.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Sustainability Policy and Practice
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2015


  • Community and Social Sustainability
  • Disaster Management
  • NGOs
  • Post Disaster Development
  • Tsunami

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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