Planning Reconstruction of Bhuj, Gujurat, India
After the devastating earthquake in the region of Gujarat, India in January 2001, TCGI and Environmental Planning Collaborative with support from the FIRE-D project, and in collaboration with other non-government organizations, assessed the impact on the region. In the course of their research they developed an information gathering system that would result in reconstruction proposals from diverse stakeholders. This project has produced a number of reports, including “A Case Study in Participatory Planning for Post-Disaster Recovery in India” and a manual for post-disaster planning.
Lessons learned from the research surrounding this disaster resulted in valuable and succinct models that transfer readily to many community-based projects. Among these are
- Sharing information, and using GIS maps to display it, strengthens reconstruction planning.
- Supporting a common information cell conserves scarce resources and facilitated coordinated action.
- Residents’ participation in preparing reconstruction plans is both feasible and desirable.
- Participatory planning helps achieve the decentralization objectives of the 74th Constitutional Amendment of 1992.
- Involving community stakeholders helps ensure they will support the plan and be more willing to contribute their time and resources to help carry it out.
- Community empowerment will result in communities that are rebuilt in a way that contributes to sustainable development.
Above the personal suffering that completely leveled more than 250 towns and villages, the disaster inflicted a major blow on the livelihoods of these communities. Approximately one out of every three agricultural employees worked in the impacted districts. While almost two out of every three non-agricultural employees worked in the impacted districts. The worst hit districts -- Kachch, Jamnigar, Surendranagar and Rajkot -- are home to approximately 250,000 enterprises that employed almost three-quarters of a million people. In the Kachch District alone, the district that sustained the most extensive damage, there were 45,608 enterprises employing 118,384 employees. Nine out of every ten Kachchi enterprises and employees worked in the non-agricultural sector.
The conclusion to these findings pointed to the importance of including the rapid restitution of income-generating facilities in relief efforts. As it turned out, few development agencies addressed this need, and family members languished in the aftermath of the earthquake, without schools, optimism or work. The overarching economic and morale-building need is to get people back to work as soon as possible.