Post-Disaster Housing & Community Reconstruction Handbook

Project Summary

Safer Homes, Stronger Communities: A Handbook for Reconstruction after Natural Disasters

World Bank , September 2008 - December 2009. Publication, January 2010

The project to develop Safer Homes, Stronger Communities: A Handbook for Reconstructing after Disasters, was initiated in 2008 by the World Bank, with support from the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery. The handbook developed by TCGI was published in January 2010 and is being disseminated for use in the Haiti earthquake reconstruction.

Safer Homes, Stronger Communities: A Handbook for Reconstructing after Disasters was developed by TCGI for the World Bank, with financing from the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery, to assist policy makers and project managers engaged in large-scale post-disaster reconstruction programs make decisions about how best to reconstruct housing and communities after natural disasters. As the handbook demonstrates, post-disaster reconstruction begins with a series of decisions that must be made almost immediately. Despite the urgency, these decisions have long-term impacts on the lives of those affected by the disaster.

Based on the TCGI team’s experience in the Gujarat earthquake reconstruction, post hurricane Mitch planning, and numerous other disasters, TCGI was contracted to develop a practical, comprehensive housing and community reconstruction handbook for use in the field that reflected lessons learned from various types of natural disasters. The handbook emphasizes planning and construction that increases disaster resilience―both pre- and post-disaster. It promotes a community-led approach to disaster risk management and to reconstruction, using neighborhood facilitators and extensive consultation with affected communities.

Organization of the project. TCGI served as the prime contractor on the project, with assistance provided by subcontractors World Habitat Research Center of the Institute for Applied Sustainability to the Built Environment (ISAAC) in Lugano, Switzerland, and Tetra Tech, in Reston, Virginia, USA. More than 20 principal authors contributed to the handbook.  In addition, in order to gather the current thinking on best practices in post-disaster housing and community reconstruction, the TCGI team consulted with more than 150 experts on the subject, who contributed case studies, comments, and technical advice. Importantly, TCGI worked collaboratively throughout the project with the World Bank team led by Abhas K. Jha, Regional Coordinator, Disaster Risk Management, East Asia and the Pacific.

Partner agencies who signed on during the course of the project include World Housing Encyclopedia, Asian Disaster Preparedness Center, Earthquakes and Megacities Initiative, International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, Habitat for Humanity International, Shelter Centre, and Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

Knowledge management. The project included a range of knowledge management tasks in addition to the development of the handbook, including the design of a web site (, intended to help the World Bank create a community of practice and provide a forum to improve reconstruction efforts over time. An extensive technical document database on housing and community reconstruction was also developed and incorporated into the handbook as hyperlinks in footnotes, endnotes, and resource lists.

TCGI provided the Bank with a Dissemination Plan for the handbook that recommended a mix of “old” and “new” media options. In a Final Report, TCGI recommended future actions by the Bank to build on the guidance contained in the handbook. The Bank expects to use the handbook as a training tool in the near future.

The handbook is unique for the World Bank in that it combines both policy advice and practical guidance, and is intended for both internal and external audiences.

Policy focus. As international experience—and the examples in the handbook—clearly demonstrate, putting a reconstruction policy in place improves both the efficiency and the effectiveness of the reconstruction process. In addition to providing advice on the content of such a policy, the handbook describes mechanisms for managing communications with stakeholders about the policy, for improving the consistency of the policy, and for monitoring the policy’s implementation and outcomes.

The handbook covers the five key areas which the reconstruction policy should cover:

  • Institutional Policy
  • Financial Policy
  • Community Participation
  • Reconstruction Approach
  • Risk Management

Project management focus.  Project managers and task managers are responsible for implementing government policy decisions and for making many operational decisions on the ground. The handbook provides information on the options that should be considered in various aspects of reconstruction and insight into what has worked elsewhere under specific conditions. TCGI gathered more than 100 case studies from around the globe to illustrate specific challenges encountered and solutions found in post-disaster housing and community reconstruction projects.

TCGI’s services. TCGI can assist clients in national and local governments with planning, project identification, and financing to improve local disaster resilience. After a disaster, TCGI can coordinate participatory planning for housing and community reconstruction and manage reconstruction to ensure transparency and the effective use of both donor and government resources.

Selected TCGI Project Outputs

Reconstruction Handbook Web Site

Case Study:1999 Earthquake, Colombia

Case Study: 2004 Indian Ocean

Related TCGI Resources

Gujarat Participatory Planning Guidelines