Time after time, my blog postings document (and lament) the difficulties that various countries, states (prefectures, provinces), and localities are having working through an effective and efficient recovery. You name the country and the recent disaster event, and it will be on the list of places struggling with recovery.
First a brief account of why we need to do a better job with recovery, soon and worldwide. In short, the costs are too high to go unchecked. It’s a global necessity that we need get better at recovering from disasters. See this article from HS Wired, March 15: 2012 economic losses from disasters set new record at $138 billion. The lead paragraph says:
The UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) reported that for the first time in history, the world has experienced three consecutive years in which annual economic losses have exceeded $100 billion. The losses are the result of an enormous increase in exposure of industrial assets and private property to extreme disaster events. brief account of why we need to do a better job with recovery:
In reviewing some of the recent examples of recovery from major disasters in 3 countries, as covered in this blog, some common concerns can be seen. After reading the Bosner article about Japan, and Ian McLean’s article about Christchurch, and some of my recent posts about the Hurricane Sandy (US), I the nations currently dealing with recovery from major to catastrophic events have several features in common. I will note just two, because this is a topic that warrants a dissertation or two and not just a blog posting.
Pace: In the first two years of effort, generally recovery is proceeding more slowly than anyone imagined or hoped for. Typically, neither public officials or citizens are satisfied Some of the problems are lack of knowledge and experience, some are public policy and management deficiencies, and others have to do with political will.
Organizations– in all cases the organizations in place were not adequate, so new ones had to be created after the disaster occurred.
· In Japan, they created a national Reconstruction Agency. See earlier postings on this blog for more details.
· In the Christchurch area, they created a new regional organization – CERA. Here is the link to the Recovery Strategy developed by CERA.
· And in the U.S., HUD assumed responsibility at the federal level for recovery and created the Hurricane Sandy Recovery Task Force. The organization, functions, and responsibilities are still being sorted out at the present time.
My concern is that organizational problems, many of which could be anticipated, are preventing effective leadership during the recovery period. I think more help is needed from the public administration community on recovery organization and management matters. And I would like to see the executive agencies better utilize the existing talent – researchers, consultants, and practitioners. Several excellent mechanisms exist, such as the National Academy of Public Administration and the National Academy of Science. Think about using them!
And I would like to see more groups like the American Society for Public Administration, NEMA, and IAEM get more pro active and make recommendations to the executive agencies.
Presently, the spotlight is on the new role of HUD and specifically on the new organization – the Sandy Rebuilding Task Force. In my view, until the needs of the recovery process are dealt with. making progress with “resilience” is not realistic.
As always, comments and additions are welcome.