BBB – Principles for post-disaster structural improvements

Abstract Purpose – The purpose of the paper is to inform stakeholders involved in post-disaster reconstruction how to incorporate Build Back Better (BBB) principles when implementing structural design improvements to achieve efficiency and effectiveness in the rebuilding process.

Design/methodology/approach – Literature review was used to establish BBB principles required for post-disaster structural changes. The application of these principles was then tested in the Indian Ocean Tsunami reconstruction in Sri Lanka, and the Victorian Bushfires in Australia. Qualitative data were collected in each country by conducting interviews with stakeholders from governmental authorities, and non-governmental and community-level organisations who were directly involved in recovery activities along with other documentation. Results were compared to understand how/to what extent BBB principles were applied and their implications, to finally determine the applicability of these principles in different environments.

Findings – Proposed BBB principles for post-disaster structural changes from literature were grouped under: building codes and regulations, cost and time, and quality. Principles such as multihazard-based building codes, education and support for communities, long-term funding and quality assurance through inspections were applicable in both case studies. Experiences in Australia and Sri Lanka also presented a few extra principles to add practicality based on local contextualisation. These included avoiding high-risk lands using buy-back/land-swap schemes, incentives to attract skilled builders, and the use of comfortable temporary accommodation to relieve time pressures.

Research limitations/implications – The study does not look into detail at the administrative, regulative and social systems which contributed towards the inability of the built environment to withstand the respective hazards. A general understanding of these systems was gained and taken into consideration when analysing the results. The findings show that despite the differences found between Australia and Sri Lanka the relevance of the principles for structural improvements remained intact.

Practical implications – The government, engineers and building practitioners involved in reconstruction will benefit from learning from the experiences of others, and understanding how implementing structural changes can be done more successfully by applying BBB principles.

Originality/value – This research takes a unique look at how BBB principles drawn from international experiences can be incorporated when implementing structural changes in post-disaster rebuilding to further improve the outcome.

Keywords Build Back Better, Reconstruction, Indian ocean tsunami, Victorian bushfires, Natural disasters, Hazards

Paper type Research paper

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