Acknowledging local sociality in disaster recovery: a longitudinal, qualitative study
thesisposted on 2022-03-28, 09:31 authored by Tetsuya Okada
Formal recovery, reconstruction and risk reduction efforts put in place in response to major disaster events are designed to redevelop infrastructure and services for, and improve the longer-term safety of, the affected populations. However, these efforts often rely on top-down approaches that neglect the impact on and the presence of local people’s everyday lives in and with their communities (local sociality). As a result, top-down recovery and reconstruction approaches may misjudge engagement with disaster-impacted communities. Existing and emerging power-relations tend to influence the aims and processes of the recovery and marginalise the voices of the affected populations, particularly the most vulnerable. This thesis explores these issues in four case studies: the towns of St George and Grantham, in Queensland, Australia, both of which were severely impacted by flooding events between 2010 and 2012, and the Japanese towns of Koizumi and Namie, which sustained devastating damage from the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami and in the case of Namie, contamination from the Fukushima nuclear reactor in 2011. This study identifies a critical coherence in the human, social and political issues and challenges across all study areas, despite differences in the country, physical attributes of the hazards, types of damage and responses. In particular, the commonality identified across four different cases illuminate the importance of local sociality that is highly valued by the disaster-impacted people but often overlooked or downplayed by others. The adopted qualitative, longitudinal research approach using semi-structured interviews through multiple site visits captured and identified long-term impacts and transitions in each study area involving individuals, households, local community groups, support persons and organisations and government officials.