Loughborough University
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Resilience in the humanitarian sphere: stimulating resilience for recovery in Haiti

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posted on 2015-03-16, 11:07 authored by Katrice G. King
Severe recovery deficits after post-disaster interventions have become the landscape seen globally. Humanitarian operations have struggled to find coherence between relief and recovery activities, which has resulted in a perceived operational gap between relief, recovery and development. This current dynamic has caused significant deficiencies within humanitarian programming, such as weak strategy, a lack of transition mechanisms, exit plans and effective recovery. A situation that stems from the current paradigm the humanitarian system operates under and the framework that has evolved around it. Supporting the development of adaptive resilience of a disaster-affected population, within the humanitarian sphere, has been theoretically posed to be fundamental for recovery; a programmatic consideration that could ensure former weak resilience would not hinder post-disaster recovery. Therefore, could a resilience building approach offer much needed solutions to the challenge of recovery within post-disaster contexts? This research aimed to understand whether resilience building within post-disaster environments could increase potential recovery of disaster affected populations and whether it is feasible to build individual/household (HH) level resilience through emergency response operations? The research looked specifically at adaptive resilience at the individual/HH level, clarifying the concept and understanding its modality in order to operationalise it within humanitarian programming. The common barriers to recovery experienced by individuals/HH in a crisis event were gauged, and the relationship between adaptive resilience and recovery determined. A unique singular case study was used to collect quantitative and qualitative data required to answer the key objectives of this research. The case study chosen was the 2010 Haiti earthquake response. Primary data was collected over a 7 months period through 37 semi-structured interviews and 31 online questionnaires with donors, government, INGOs, LNGOs and the private sector, that were operating within the Haiti response, and 18 disaster affected community members within a community discussion forum. Bringing a total participation of 86 individuals and organisations. An in-depth case study was developed in order to offer an evidence base for the proposed theory, that supporting adaptive resilience through emergency response programming has the ability to stimulate recovery. A new data collection tool was trialed within the community discussion forum, namely the Sociogram. This tool looked to assess the main components of adaptive resilience. Methodological rigour was introduced through the use of methodological and data triangulation to ensure validity and reliability of the research. The research successfully identified the main barriers to recovery, pinpointed the key components for adaptive resilience and the influence of emergency programming on the development of adaptive resilience, establishing the relationship between them. The role emergency response operations can play in the development of adaptive resilience was then explored. It has been demonstrated that to ensure recovery and allow for a more resilient society to evolve, adaptive resilience needs to be and can be supported and developed within emergency response operations. The research has been able to demonstrate, through the analysis of the Shelter and WASH response undertaken in Haiti, that developing resilience in the post-disaster environment is possible and an approach that is able to improve strategy within emergency response operations. Improvements would be seen in the provision of essential services within the response, a substantial increase in transitional and exit options and an increased capacity to proactively stimulate rapid recovery. This strategic approach to emergency response programming has the ability to offer the coherence needed between relief, recovery and development. Determining that a resilience building approach within emergency response operations could be the missing link or resolution to the perceived operational gap between relief, recovery and development. Pursuing a resilience building approach has the potential to bring much needed cultural change within the humanitarian sector that will shape operations for a more strategic and successful future.


Loughborough University



  • Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering


© Katrice Grace King

Publisher statement

This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

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A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.


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