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Breaching the urban contract: Lessons from post disaster reconstruction from research on five divided cities

Esther Charlesworth (Sustainable Urban and Regional Futures Programme, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia)
John Fien (Sustainable Urban and Regional Futures Programme, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia)

International Journal of Disaster Resilience in the Built Environment

ISSN: 1759-5908

Article publication date: 3 June 2014

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to identify practical lessons for urban managers involved in the post-disaster field, drawing on research about ethnic division, conflict and reconstruction in five divided cities.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper analyses the original case study fieldwork in the five divided cities to identify how the concept of “urban contract” can be used to explain the impacts of different levels of resilience to conflict or disaster. It also examines the importance of rebuilding the urban contract for community resilience as the key to “building back better” in urban reconstruction.

Findings

This analysis indicates three important lessons about the importance of the “urban contract” in building disaster resilience. The first is that disasters, like conflict, can be anticipated and strategies put in place to strengthen the social networks on which community resilience depends – and that such anticipatory behaviour provides the time to do this. The second finding is that dispersing people away from a damaged neighbourhood for any period but the absolute minimum necessary to ensure public health and community well-being should be avoided at all costs. The third finding relates to the importance of using skilled public consultation and engagement in physical reconstruction as a way of enhancing social reconstruction.

Originality/value

This is the first paper to draw parallels between the impacts of conflict and disasters on the urban contract between city managers and citizens. As well as identifying key lessons for disaster resilience, the paper makes a strong theoretical contribution by pointing to the significance of the urban contract in wider studies of cities and disasters.

Keywords

Citation

Charlesworth, E. and Fien, J. (2014), "Breaching the urban contract: Lessons from post disaster reconstruction from research on five divided cities", International Journal of Disaster Resilience in the Built Environment, Vol. 5 No. 2, pp. 194-201. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJDRBE-06-2012-0016

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited