The recent earthquakes in Italy, Haiti and Chile remind us of the impact that natural disasters have on communities and the important role that engineers play in redeveloping these communities. The earthquake in Haiti, a country identified as one of the poorest in the world, also created questions regarding the influence that country level variables have on the ability of the community to progress through stages of response, recovery and sustainable development. Economic circumstance, political conflict and social unrest can make progression beyond the response phase difficult, if not improbable, for developing communities. This paper seeks to introduce and discuss challenges of disaster response and redevelopment by focusing on country level variables and their impact on disaster stage progression. We start by defining a disaster and presenting a cyclical planning framework that includes preparation, the disaster event, response, recovery, sustainable development and preparation. Using the framework, we use preliminary case studies to collect and analyze publically available data to compare and contrast earthquakes in Kobe, Athens, and Iran. These locations have vastly different GDPs, education levels, life expectancies, and levels of corruption that influence not only the immediate outcomes but also the community’s advancement through the recovery phases. We end by proposing future research using Ragin’s Qualitative Comparative Analysis that will advance our understanding of community development after disasters.

Javernick-Will, A., Chinowsky, P. and Senesi, C. (2010). "Disasters: Impact of Country Level Variables on Recovery Progression." Engineering Project Organization Conference. South Lake Tahoe, CA.