Planning under uncertainty

‘Building back better’ includes recognising the uncertainty in our political, economic, social and natural environments. The future is dominated by long-term trends whose impacts are very uncertain: rapid urbanisation, HIV/AIDS, civil conflict, environmental degradation and climate change.  These trends contribute to vulnerability and must be considered in reconstruction and recovery planning.

Efforts to strengthen people's immediate resilience e.g. safer living conditions and livelihoods - must be supported by planning for future uncertainty.  This helps ensure resilience over time. 

Three keys to planning with uncertainty

These elements must be seen alongside the three main components of the Vulnerability to Resilience (V2R) framework:
hazards, livelihoods and governance.

1. Raising awareness and recognition of trends and their local impacts.

This is important in order for individual and communities to act on this knowledge when trends are likely to have an impact on their livelihoods and threaten their living conditions. Information such as weather trends, climate predictions can help people to choose for example, the plinth level needed to ensure their home is safe from flooding, the type of roofing needed to withstand strong winds, and the material and design to ensure the home is comfortable in rising temperatures.

2. Supporting access to relevant and timely information relating to impacts and how to adapt to them. 

Improving recognition of trends and their impacts can be achieved through awareness raising and educational activities through schools, directly with communities, through the media and other institutions. Build Back Better means encouraging partnerships to facilitate the flow of information and learning from communities to decision makers and services providers and vice versa.

3. Building confidence and flexibility to learn and experiment in order to adapt.

When trends are understood, promoting adaptive capacity can begin through a proactive assessment of options taken into account during hazard and livelihoods analysis  The reconstruction process can create and strengthen opportunities to innovate and experiment, such as the housing design, incorporating new technologies such as the Rat Trap Bond technique

Case study: Building back better in Bangladesh and Kenya

The case study shows how Practical Action’s ‘build back better’ work has promoted building under uncertainty and promoted adaptive capacity

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