Post-disaster housing reconstruction: Postoccupancy case studies from Sri Lanka
Authors: Ahmed, Iftekhar; McEvoy, Darryn
ABSTRACT: After the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, major housing reconstruction programmes were
implemented in the affected countries. Five years after, the houses that were built offer post-occupancy
lessons. This paper is based on Sri Lanka, one of the countries most severely impacted by the
tsunami. The experience of these large reconstruction programmes prompts a fundamental question:
what design and planning features should be encouraged, and what should be avoided, in postdisaster
housing reconstruction programmes? Based on primary information from interviews of
community members and representatives of agencies involved in planning and implementing the
programmes, three main aspects are discussed – design, construction and post-occupancy issues.
From the micro-scale of design of spaces within the house to the urban scale of settlement layout, the
achievements made in the context of a highly constrained post-disaster situation as well as issues that
required more careful attention are discussed here. The paper underscores the importance of
resilience and capacity for adaptation of the communities in these settlements, and highlights the
necessity of involving local communities in all stages of housing reconstruction.