Disaster recovery should not perpetuate injustice

eyevine3-05637333_cm_hiresThe past 40 days have seen two major earthquakes in Mexico, three hurricanes striking the Caribbean and the southern United States, and floods across Bangladesh, India and Nepal. Rebuilding efforts will take years. If things go as usual, these could leave the worst off relatively worse off and the environment more vulnerable.

Most recovery projects do produce net benefits. But many boost social inequality and environmental damage. They create winners (commonly trumpeted) and losers (often ignored). They can also interfere with environmental policies (such as those limiting exposure to toxic chemicals) or stymie efforts at climate-change mitigation (through deforestation and rebuilding with carbon-intensive materials, for example).

Some reconstruction efforts after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami came under criticism for prioritizing tourist venues. Such areas were often already more vulnerable, because sand dunes and mangroves had been sacrificed for better ocean views.

Read the full article in Nature

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