NSF Study Report on Participatory, Sustainable Recovery Released

Loretta Pyles, Ph.D., Associate Professor, and recent School of Social Welfare graduate, Juliana Svistova, Ph.D., just completed a report that details findings of a 3-year study of participatory, sustainable disaster recovery in rural Haiti. The research was funded by the National Science Foundation’s “Disaster Resilience in Rural Communities Program,” and also made comparisons to disaster recovery in the rural U.S. Gulf Coast.

The study was conducted after the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti and focused on disaster impact and recovery, as well as discourses of recovery, media, policies, and interventions. A key concern of the research was the interplay between discourses and practices of local participation in rural areas in relation to outside actors.

The final report details ten key findings and offers specific recommendations for practitioners and policymakers. Pyles, Svistova and third co-author, Josué André, Heart-to-Heart International, make suggestions for disaster preparedness and risk reduction in a way that enhances local community connections and resources, while also calling for transformation of economic arrangements where environmental protection is centered. Overall, the results of the inquiry into discourses and social production of disaster recovery, ask everyone working on recovery issues in Haiti, from policymakers to development workers to local community organizers, to pose key questions about their projects – Whose vision of recovery is it? Who participates? and Who benefits?