Safer Homes, Stronger Communities
A Handbook for Reconstructing after Natural Disasters
Background Safer Homes, Stronger Communities: A Handbook for Reconstructing after Disasters was developed to assist policy makers and project managers engaged in large-scale post-disaster reconstruction programs make decisions about how to reconstruct housing and communities after natural disasters. As the handbook demonstrates, post-disaster reconstruction begins with a series of decisions that must be made almost immediately. Despite the urgency with which these decisions are made, they have long-term impacts, changing the lives of those affected by the disaster for years to come. As a policymaker, you may be responsible for establishing the policy framework for the entire reconstruction process or for setting reconstruction policy in only one sector. The handbook is emphatic about the importance of establishing a policy to guide reconstruction.
Effective reconstruction is set in motion only after the policymaker has evaluated his or her alternatives, conferred with stakeholders, and established the framework and the rules for reconstruction. As international experience—and the examples in the handbook—clearly demonstrate, reconstruction policy improves both the efϐiciency and the effectiveness of the reconstruction process. In addition to providing advice on the content of such a policy, the handbook describes mechanisms for managing communications with stakeholders about the policy, for improving the consistency of the policy, and for monitoring the policy's implementation and outcomes. The handbook does not tell you exactly what to do, but it should greatly improve the likelihood that the reconstruction policy that is established leads to good outcomes.