From recovery to social repair – the role of community in post-disaster recovery

By Emily Morrison | 12 April 2021

The British Academy's inquiry into the Social implications of COVID-19 is a key call for action as we look to how to recover in a way that is socially, economically and environmentally regenerative rather than restorative of a problematic status quo. How and on what terms to recover from disaster is critical here to avoid ‘building back’ to a pre-pandemic state of deep-rooted inequality within communities, fragility in our welfare systems, local economies and individual livelihoods.

There is much common wisdom that could be learned and applied from frameworks used to assure community resilience in disaster recovery. These tell us that to support communities to recover needs a solid and locally distributed foundation: basic needs met through services, protections and governance; a diversified economy; a thriving system of education provision. They specify the essential need for two-way communication, connectivity and decision making between communities, organisations and authorities to use community insight as a strength to identify local needs and appropriate solutions. And community recovery depends on facilitating local interventions and access points that provide opportunities for a skilled community workforce to develop, supported by resources and tools that facilitate the ‘scaling up’ of community networks[1]

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