Houses and infrastructure
Poor people’s housing and infrastructure can be very vulnerable in a disaster because of the constraints under which it was originally built (lack of money, of security, of knowledge), and because poor people often build on hazardous sites.
One of the biggest areas of work after a disaster is rebuilding this housing and infrastructure. It is important for everyone that the new structures are of good enough quality and more resistant to future disasters – that they are better than what existed before. The process of achieving this is as important as its end products. By putting people at the centre of the reconstruction process, they (as well as their buildings) can become better able to cope with future risks.
Building back better tends to focus too often on physical resistance to disasters. This narrow focus can lead humanitarian agencies to prioritise the use of architects, engineers and building contractors. This is expensive, and does little to help people and communities become more resilient. Meanwhile, the skills, efforts and investment capabilities of the crisis-affected population are ignored.
People-Centred Reconstruction is an approach to rebuilding that is inclusive and participatory. This page outlines the advantages of this approach and the problems it is trying to avoid. For more detail see our Position Paper and Book.
Practical Action, together with the IDRC, has put together a set of tools for practitioners giving practical guidance about many aspects of implementing a PCR approach.
They focus on reconstruction by-and-for people. They show how to support and empower poor people and communities in urban and rural locations to take charge of their own reconstruction processes, and realise adequate quality. PCR is based on the recognition that reconstruction often starts very soon after a disaster has occurred, and therefore needs to be planned for at a very early stage.