Post-disaster relocation is perceived as a means of lessening risk, especially in overcrowded urban areas. While literature suggests policy makers overemphasize geographic separation from hazards, little is known about the risk reduction decision processes motivating relocation. Through a framework of institutional theory, we investigate the regulatory, normative, and cultural-cognitive elements guiding risk reduction decision-making in post-disaster relocation projects. We examined decisions informing the relocation in Tacloban City, Philippines as the city recovers from 2013’s Super Typhoon Haiyan. We used participatory observation and semi-structured interviews with diverse stakeholders to capture a comprehensive understanding of the most salient institutional influences, particularly interagency communication norms, local definitions of risk, and a cultural-cognitive conviction that relocation is facilitating an inevitable trajectory of the city’s growth. We also identify points of divergence, where decision processes have derailed from their standard regulatory institutional habits due to the stress of disaster recovery.

Palagi, S. and Javernick-Will, A. (2016). “(Ostensibly) Invulnerable Distances: Investigating the Role of Post-Disaster Relocation for Holistic Risk Reduction.” International Conference on Urban Disaster Reduction. Wellington, New Zealand.