Projects per year
‘Representations’ of recovery refer to the creation, circulation, reinforcement and subversion of ideas about what should be done in the months and years after a hazard has struck. The research reported in this paper outlines how contrasting and, in some cases, openly contested narratives can emerge in society around the nature and causes of the event, the impacts and needs of the affected population, and the priorities and effectiveness of recovery processes. We worked in three states in India – Odisha, Tamil Nadu and Kerala – collecting and collating a range of information on ideas, experiences and debates about disaster recovery from people in disaster-affected communities, from governmental and non-governmental organisations, from reports in the media, from academic studies and from official documentation. These related to major hazard events over the last two decades as well as recent events that hit the states prior to or during the course of the research. Though there is much variation between disaster cases in the pattern of representations by different actors, there are some discernible elements that do tend to work together to generate an effect on outcomes, often in ways that not only side-line livelihood and wellbeing priorities of disaster-affected people but also sometimes downplay or even negate the needs and rights of specific social groups. Managing disaster recovery is a hugely challenging task. However, it is not well served if the ways in which impacts and recovery needs are articulated lead to the effective exclusion of certain sectors, social groups, needs and concerns from full consideration, or to the blocking of alternative perspectives such as proactive approaches to future risk reduction. Key in this, we maintain, is the need to shift representations of recovery to better match the needs and voices of those most affected.