Disaster Recovery Planning Workshop emphasises building back better

07 Sep 2012

(Suva, Fiji) - Let’s not wait for a disaster to strike, let’s prepare now! Recovery plans should be made by governments before disasters strike and focus on building resilience. This is one of the key outcomes of a three day workshop on disaster recovery training.

The UNDP Resident Representative and UN Resident Coordinator Knut Ostby, in his closing remarks emphasized on building resilience.

“Post-disaster recovery programmes provide an opportunity for building resilience. As you know, we like to call that “Building Back Better”. Such initiatives can usually be applied following significant disaster events whereby there is greater awareness of the importance of risk reduction measures and there are significant recovery and reconstruction programmes underway,” said Mr Knut Ostby.

More than 40 professionals working in disaster recovery in Fiji and Samoa, representing a large cross section of government ministries and civil society organizations involved in disaster recovery attended the workshop.

The participants also came up with a set of recommendations that emphasized the importance of governments to own and lead disaster recovery efforts; disaster recovery planning to build the resilience of communities, that is, ‘building back better;’ comprehensive and inclusive recovery plans to promote safer communities; and governments facilitating resilient recovery even before a disaster by putting in place a pre-disaster recovery plan or framework.

Mr Ostby said that the implementation of the recommendations across the key recovery areas covered in this workshop would require coordinated and joint efforts from national and international actors; and from Government as well as non-Government sectors.

“Leadership and ownership needs to be at the national level but international and regional partners stand ready to support,” he said.   

Mr Ostby highlighted the development of prioritized recovery (and reconstruction) plans as one of the approaches that can greatly enhance the delivery of disaster recovery programmes, especially when external resources and capacity are required. This, he said, could be used as a basis for more effective coordination and resource mobilization purposes.

“A framework recovery and reconstruction was developed after the tsunami in Samoa in September 2009 and was used to coordinate support from a range of regional and international agencies.  Similarly a recovery action plan was applied in Cook Islands after Cyclone Pat (February 2010) in order to coordinate recovery and reconstruction efforts.  In both instances these plans were effective in mobilizing additional resources, and in accelerating and coordinating action,” he said.

Mr Ostby said that the UN system, regional and other international agencies could provide support in the implementation of disaster recovery programmes. He cited the example of a livelihoods recovery project implemented in response to the floods earlier this year in Fiji, by UNDP, jointly with UN Women and International Labour Organisation (ILO) that provided a temporary source of cash income to those affected by the floods.

The training was organized by the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR), the International Recovery Platform (lRP) and supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). It is part of the European Union funded project "Strengthening Region based Capacities in Pre-Disaster Recovery Planning".

Contact Information

Shobhna Decloitre, UNDP Communications Specialist on (679) 3300399 or Shobhna.decloiter@undp.org