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Compounded loss: the post tsunami recovery experience of Indian island communities

Manu Gupta (SEEDS India, New Delhi, India)
Anshu Sharma (SEEDS India, New Delhi, India)

Disaster Prevention and Management

ISSN: 0965-3562

Article publication date: 1 January 2006




It has been observed in a number of recent disasters, and most evidently after the South Asian tsunami, that remote, underdeveloped, and most vulnerable communities take the longest to recover, in‐spite of an abundance of resources available for supporting them. The loss compounding approach of analysing the tsunami impact is a useful way of identifying those factors within the recovery process that need attention for helping affected communities get rehabilitated in a better and faster manner. The paper seeks to address this issue.


The paper looks at how and why the recovery process has been slower and less efficient in the tsunami affected small island communities of India as compared to the mainland communities. This is further analysed in terms of the physical, social and environmental impacts and their recovery aspects.


The paper identifies good governance and social capital as important elements for ensuring equitable recovery processes, and for ensuring appropriate capacity building in marginalised and highly vulnerable communities.

Practical implications

The practical implications of the discussed approach and findings are two pronged: governance needs to be responsive to community systems; and communities need to tap into their social capital to enhance their local coping capacities. Participation is a primary element in achieving these goals. Participation is a crucial element of governance to ensure that it is responsive, locally relevant, and accountable to specific needs of less represented communities. At the same time, it is also a critical process that enables local realilsation of needs and contexts, and creates an environment of capacity building at the grassroot level.


The paper highlights the continuing lack of recognition of the importance of local coping capacities, with no appreciation of the fact that rehabilitation needs to be based on local resources, determined by local capacities, and decided by local communities.



Gupta, M. and Sharma, A. (2006), "Compounded loss: the post tsunami recovery experience of Indian island communities", Disaster Prevention and Management, Vol. 15 No. 1, pp. 67-78.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2006, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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