14.4 Recovery phase

The post-emergency or recovery phase is defined as the process of rebuilding, restoring and rehabilitating the community following an emergency. It is a time to revisit the communication plan that was drawn up during the preparedness phase and reassess behaviour to monitor the effectiveness of the plan.

The recovery phase offers an opportunity to expand service delivery and to increase quality and availability of water, hygiene and sanitation related services. In this phase it is important to continue communication activities and to establish and sustain normality as far as is possible in the emergency affected communities. ‘Building back better’ is a principle that takes a positive approach to the opportunities presented post-emergency, underpinning recovery and reconstruction activities that promote more resilient and capable communities. For example, Practical Action (2014) do this through seven principles:

  • Do no harm: learn from the past, and avoid unnecessary damage to future recovery.

  • Agencies must be accountable to the people they seek to assist.
  • People affected by disaster should be the decision makers.
  • Recovery of local economy and livelihoods must be a priority.
  • Reconstruction and recovery efforts must recognise diversity.
  • Communities should be allowed to use their own resources wherever possible.
  • Reconstruction must take account of future hazards and risks.

Following these principles can encourage positive developments such as the construction of improved water supply and better sanitation provision for the future. However, the physical reconstruction of buildings and infrastructure following an emergency can sometimes be achieved more quickly than social or psychological rehabilitation (WHO, 2002). The recovery phase in terms of people’s sense of wellbeing may therefore take a long time. Planning for long-term recovery is an important part of emergency planning that needs to be considered as part of the pre-emergency planning phase.

  • During which phase of emergency should community workers be trained in interpersonal communication skills and why?

  • Such training should be given during the response phase. This is because people may get strong feelings of fear, insecurity and helplessness during emergencies, and this can have significant psychosocial impact. For example people might not be allowed to undertake usual funeral arrangements and mourning practices and this needs careful handling by people with appropriate training.

  • During which phase should communication materials be prepared and made ready for dissemination?

  • Communication materials should be developed, produced and stored ready for distribution during the preparedness phase. This will save precious time and resources. It may also be necessary to produce materials during the response phase.

14.3.1 Rapid assessment of hygiene behaviour

Summary of Study Session 14