Sandeeka Mannakkara, Suzanne Wilkinson



The concept “Building Back Better” (BBB) was formally introduced following the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, which implies using a collaborative approach to improve the physical, social and economic conditions of a community during post-disaster reconstruction and recovery. This paper introduces eight BBB Principles which contribute towards achieving BBB. The post-tsunami recovery effort in Sri Lanka was examined using the BBB Principles to determine the extent to which BBB has been incorporated in immediate and long-term disaster management practices. Reports, literature, and data collected from a site visit made to Sri Lanka in 2010/2011 were analysed to establish the findings. Although BBB concepts were recognized, failure in execution resulted in a non-BBB recovery. Lessons learnt from shortcomings have been understood and incorporated into current disaster management practices. Good BBB practices currently in effect include: hazard-based land-use planning and risk-based structural regulations; increased awareness; participatory approaches; and stakeholder training. The absence of legislative support to implement BBB initiatives is the only drawback preventing so far. Lessons from Sri Lanka can benefit disaster management practices worldwide.


Post-disaster reconstruction; recovery; build back better; sri lanka; indian ocean tsunami

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