Recovery refers to those programmes which go beyond the provision of immediate relief to assist those who have suffered the full impact of a disaster to rebuild their homes, lives and services and to strengthen their capacity to cope with future disasters.
Following a disaster, life-saving assistance is the most urgent need. The rapid provision of food, water, shelter and medical care is vital to prevent further loss of life and alleviate suffering. However, practical experience, backed by research, supports the view that even at this stage, relief must be conducted with a thought to the affected community’s longer-term benefit and certainly should not be prejudicial to it. And as people begin to get back on their feet and rebuild their lives, aid agencies need to help them to strengthen their resilience to future hazards. Just restoring the pre-disaster status quo may inadvertently perpetuate vulnerability. Likewise, development programmes need to take into account existing risks and susceptibility to hazards and to incorporate elements to reduce them. The two approaches are interdependent, complementary and mutually supportive.
The International Federation is a leading humanitarian organization active in post-disaster and post-conflict relief and rehabilitation. Whatever the nature of the disaster – flood, earthquake, industrial accident or civil disturbance – there is an opportunity to link and integrate relief, rehabilitation and development. To do so effectively requires an analysis of the broader political, social and economic context. In structural crises, for instance, the provision of emergency relief should not create social or economic distortions. In a protracted disaster, there may be a need to rehabilitate livelihoods even while the emergency is ongoing. Root causes need to be identified and exposed.
For the International Federation, the key to ensuring that both short-term and longer-term needs are addressed is in supporting and strengthening the capacity of the National Society to work with vulnerable communities.
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