The frequency and intensity of extreme natural hazard events grow with global climate change, while population growth, poverty and urbanization prevent millions from escaping risk. Infrastructure recovery and risk reduction are often associated—for example, a key risk reduction strategy is to move affected communities outside of the hazard area and rebuild in a safer zone. Similarly, engineers stress the importance of quality infrastructure to reduce risk. However, achieving one does not inherently result in the other and the relationship is often muddled with assumptions. Therefore, additional research is needed regarding how communities can achieve both infrastructure recovery and risk reduction. To address this need, we sought to determine the pre-disaster community conditions and post-disaster actions that lead to the combined outcome of infrastructure recovery and risk reduction in communities in India and Sri Lanka that were recovering from the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. Contextual differences in economic strength, education, inter-community relations and interactions with the government contributed to the ability to explore a vast array of influences on the outcome of interest. This paper presents the results of community-level analyses using fuzzy-set Qualitative Comparative Analysis (fsQCA). In both countries, the pathways were grounded in social characteristics of the communities; strong social networks and low social vulnerability support the intersection of infrastructure recovery with risk reduction. Furthermore, pathways revealed the absence of NGO activity in a community can facilitate multiple pathways to the combined goal, challenging accepted practices of NGO intervention in risk management and physical reconstruction. These findings add new evidence to the relationship between community conditions, infrastructure recovery, and risk in the post-disaster environment. 

Palagi, S. and Javernick-Will, A. (2015). “Achieving Risk Reduction and Infrastructure Recovery after the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami: A Comparison between India and Sri Lanka.” Engineering Project Organizations Conference. Edinburgh, Scotland.