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Conflict and Natural Disasters
 
Relocating the victims of earthquake
One of the problems of the rescue teams in Bam is relocating the victims of earthquake to their temporary dwellings. The victims will not abandon the rubbles and ruins of their houses where they used to live,and have either relatives or property buried underneath. Instead of moving to the sanitary tents which prevents them from infection.

Although moving to the tents would be the rational thing to do, but people beleive if they leave their lands, they would loose the right to it, as the land titles have been gone with the real estate. The problem is how to convince them to move into hygiene conditions and whether it is an issue of security of tenure? But what can bring them this security? issuing titles at this stage is impossible but can it be solved psychologically or with social care?
Hani Abtahi Baker
Responses
 
Relocating the victims of earthquake
Dear Hani Abtahi,

One can understand the emotional attachment of the people of Bam to their ancestral lands. It is a human response to the tragedy, which appears to be less rational than shifting to temporary tent accommodation.

We found the same response in Kutchh after the earthquake of January 26,2001.
We were shocked to see the extensive devastation of villages, towns and city of Bhuj. The Government officers were quick to suggest relocating them elsewhere. But the people were reluctant to shift. In fact the citizens action committees in Bhachau and Bhuj were almost unanimous in urging the government to relocate them on their own lands. They were prepared for whatever sacrifice they were required to make to improving and planning of their villages and towns. They opposed the government proposals to shift them till the Government finally adopted their preference and resettled them on the same land with some modification. As architect-planners we respected their choice and we carried out studies and research on their preferences and prepared alternative proposals. However, the govt had their own agenda and process to follow to satisfy the World Bank requirements and handed over the taks to private consultants.The final results are less satisfactory and inappropriate, as informed by the citizens.

The basic issue here is do we follow the goals, objectives, priorities of the people and suitably frame policies and programmes that meet their needs as well as their aspirations or we impose our own ideas? We need to be critical about their psychological and social needs and yet provide scientific and rational input to make their new habitat earthquake resistant and develop better disaster management services.

Oour experience in Latur and Osmanabad district after the earthquake of September 30, 1993 was different. Here the Government insited on shifting the population to 55 new villages. Some of them were nearly 3 kilometer away from the old village and required some commuting to be able to reach their farms and homes. However, after the citizens were rehabilitated in new villages they were dissatisfied with their houses and settlements. They converted their homes as store rooms and constructed some sheds for themselves. Their lifestyle was so different from the so called modern rural housing and village facilities. This was the result of lack of sensitivity among most of the designers about the feelings and way of life of the villagers. There is a need for developing a multi-disciplinary approach to mitigate the after-effects and trauma faced by earthquake affected families and communities. It is not just a question of providing earthquake resistant shelter or better hygienic conditions, it is dealing with individuals, families and communities wholistically. So health care services would include medical serivces and psychological conselling and they would be supported by relief, rehabilitation and redevelopment endeavour. One needs tremendous patience and understanding to work with disaster affected peoples. You are involved with humanitarian work which requires a humane approach to issues and not just a techical solution. Wish you all the success in your noble endeavour. Please let us know if we can help you in this regard in any way. Regards,
Akhtar Chauhan
Relocating the victims of earthquake

Dear Hani,

Hello there.

 

Well there's always misunderstanding/misinterpretation between People and Governorate everywhere in the developing countries, and I think this gape raised from the conflict that always happens between people needs - specially in poor/slum areas - and how the local authority fulfill it.

 

Example for this: As you said; people are afraid of being transferred to the healthy tents and prefer to stay at their lands because they don't trust how the local authority will deal with this land.

 

In my opinion, the key for solving this issue is making a collaborative work between Architects, Socials, Physiologists and representatives from the local authority and make those poor people feel like a real community, not just being transferred to another place that they think they will not find what they need there.

 

Another point is to think about how to involve people themselves in the process of relocation somehow, I mean why not the educated people between them - if any - specially the youth and children contributes and have a role in this process, some kind of activity like organization of people into categories, making children to have a some kind of schools - I don't know how, but may be in other locations ��. Things like that. I think activities like this make people feels there humanity in somehow, not only to be transferred from one place another and always wait to be helped ��..Another point is to think about how to involve people themselves in the process of relocation somehow, I mean why not the educated people between them - if any - specially the youth and children contributes and have a role in this process, some kind of activity like organization of people into categories, making children to have a some kind of schools - I don't know how, but may be in other locations ��. Things like that. I think activities like this make people feels there humanity in somehow, not only to be transferred from one place another and always wait to be helped ...

 

Maybe it'll be a good chance for re-shaping - at least for one time - the relation between people and authority �� and yet I start to believe that it's not only an architect role because we don't know everything �� just we are trying to understand better and know better to build better ��. I don't know as the situation there in Bam may be hard as there are more that 30,000 people ��..

 

Also the role of international organizations - like the UNESCO & the UNICEF- must be clear, but I really don't know about how things can go so, let us hope it'll be better incha'ALLAH by the collaborative work

 

Wishing you all the best,

Good Luck,

Salam.

Hicham Maged
Relocating the victims of earthquake
Thank you very much, Akhtar and Hicham for your valuable comments and sharing your experience. I am aware of the multi-disciplinary, integrated approach that should be taken and that we are dealing with live tissue and not just physical urban tissue here, but the thing is how to lobby the responsibles about this approach... and how to make it happen, specially when there is an emergency case and immideate action should take place. Relief action would then be an extreme case of rehabilitation, so it would call for top-down approaches. in that case "the top" needs to be aware of the success of the integrated approach to raise the level of satisfaction. Well what i am trying to say is that the case is very complicated. I guess what I or lets say we can do is to reflect and publish all we think about this in national papers so that it does make a difference.
Hani Abtahi Baker
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