Building Back Better

Delivering people-centred housing reconstruction at scale

ISBN 978-185339-701-1

Edited by Michal Lyons and Theo Schilderman

About the editors
Table of contents
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The devastating impact of disasters on the world’s population is on the increase, influenced by climate change, urbanization, and persistent high levels of poverty, among other factors. There is a growing demand for reconstruction at scale. This book asks whether large-scale reconstruction can be participatory and developmental; can rebuilding be truly people-centred, contributing to breaking the cycle of poverty and dependence? Can reconstruction reduce people’s vulnerability to disasters and other shocks?

Building Back Better examines the context for reconstruction, and shows how developments in the fields of housing, participation and livelihoods have changed and enriched approaches to reconstruction. It then goes on to explore the practice of implementing large-scale reconstruction through in-depth case studies of recent programmes in Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Indonesia and India. Finally, an analysis of selected projects in six additional countries over a longer period of time adds other issues of relevance to people-centred reconstruction at scale.

The book intends to inform policy, programme design, practice and evaluation. It will be of interest to agencies regularly involved in reconstruction, to consultants and specialists involved, to aid agencies, to the authorities in countries regularly faced with disasters, as well as to students, academics and researchers.


"Experience has shown that participatory, people-centred housing reconstruction is far more effective than top-down, institutional delivery. However, these processes are more complex, and widely believed to be impractical for large-scale programmes. This important book demonstrates definitively that this assumption does not hold."
David Simon, Professor of Development Geography, Royal Holloway, University of London

"The breadth of contributions provides considerable material for readers seeking to understand and support participatory and integrated approaches for reconstruction."
Diana Mitlin, University of Manchester and Senior research associate, IIED

"The timely message of this book is that participation in housing reconstruction after disaster gives a more sustainable result."
Judith Eversley, International Affairs Officer, Royal Town Planning Institute, London

About the editors

Michal Lyons is Professor of Urban Development and Policy at London South Bank University.

Theo Schilderman is Head of the Access to Infrastructure Services Programme, Practical Action

Table of contents

Part one: Setting the Scene
Part two: Making programmes work for people
Part three: Lessons from the Project Level

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