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PERMANENT HOUSING IN COMMUNITY SOCIO-ECOLOGICAL RECOVERY: THE CASE OF T. VILUFUSHI, MALDIVES

Abstract
By : Peter M. Lawther

 
Housing is perhaps the most common component of a community’s manufactured capital wealth stocks damaged or destroyed by natural disasters. Consequently the restoration of housing in the recovery process takes on a paramount significance. This significance is magnified by the complexity of housing restoration and the varying and specialised skill sets required to deliver it. Such complexity is exemplified through both the different phases of post-disaster housing required following a disaster and the role of housing in the broader socio-ecological system of a community. Housing is inextricably linked to livelihoods, physical and mental health, security and social capital. Successful post-disaster restoration of housing must identify and embrace such linkages. This paper explores this notion through examination of the impact of the permanent housing reconstruction of the T. Vilufushi community, Maldives, following the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, which completely destroyed the island of Vilufushi. The community were temporarily relocated for 4˝ years whilst Vilufushi was totally reconstructed by the Government of Maldives and the British Red Cross. Such reconstruction was undertaken to cater for not only the original population of 1800, but also a projected population of 5000, as the Government of Maldives utilised the opportunity afforded by the Tsunami to pursue its longstanding population consolidation policy. The post-occupancy impact of the permanent housing reconstruction program upon the wider socio-ecological system of the Vilufushi community is explored via a qualitative research methodology utilising the four wealth capitals of sustainable development as its analytical framework. Field data collection methods comprised focus group discussions, key informant interviews and observations. This was supplemented with ongoing document collection and review. Data was analysed using a pattern match technique / content analysis, preceding a holistic recovery network analysis. Results of the research indicate that the delivery of the permanent housing on Vilufushi has undermined the human, natural and social capital wealth stocks of the community. The implications are that permanent housing reconstruction needs to be considered as much as a social process, as an engineering process. This in turn, has implications for the skillsets of those charged to deliver such projects, and also the organisations that employ them. Keywords: Community, Housing, Maldives, Socio-Ecological Systems.

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