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Post-disaster recovery through the evolution of the lakou, a traditional settlement pattern

James Patrick Miller (Department of Environmental Design, OCAD University, Toronto, Canada)

International Journal of Disaster Resilience in the Built Environment

ISSN: 1759-5908

Article publication date: 14 January 2020

Issue publication date: 17 January 2020




Historically, post-disaster reconstruction policies and practice ignore the embedded knowledge of the affected population; the process following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti followed this trend. This paper aims to examine the production of social space in self-settled post-disaster settlements in Leogane and Port-au-Prince, Haiti, the paper demonstrates the role that traditional settlement patterns played in the production of social capital.


A multi-sited case study approach was implemented to uncover the patterns of the lakou, which is a primary Haitian, traditional settlement pattern reflecting the familial social structure, present in self-settled post-disaster settlements. The study took place between February and June of 2012, two years after the 2010 earthquake across settlements in Leogane and Port-au-Prince. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 40 inhabitants across the settlements to uncover meanings attached to the creation of space. Together with behavior mapping and participant observations, the interviews were analyzed to validate the reproduction of the lakou.


This paper demonstrates that endogenous inhabitants create the lakou in post-disaster settlements in Haiti. This case study validates the resilience of the lakou, the inclusive nature of the lakou system, and the important role it plays in the production of social capital within post-disaster communities.


This study demonstrates the importance of traditional settlement patterns in post-disaster community well-being and it demonstrates the need to incorporate traditional settlement patterns into post-disaster planning strategies. Furthermore, the study validates that traditional settlement patterns support the production of social capital within a community.



Miller, J.P. (2019), "Post-disaster recovery through the evolution of the lakou, a traditional settlement pattern", International Journal of Disaster Resilience in the Built Environment, Vol. 11 No. 1, pp. 3-14.



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