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UC Looking Into Benefits of CER Act and Disaster Recovery

UC Looking Into Benefits of the CER Act and Disaster Recovery

February 27, 2013

A University of Canterbury (UC) law researcher is looking into the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act and how it is being implemented in light of existing legislation and plans for disaster recovery.

UC PhD student Robert Kipp says the Act affords the Government significant powers related to the recovery, but he is seeking to research more information about the Act as Christchurch moves forward with the recovery process.

``I want to find out what lessons could be learned about this recovery process to help the next community struck by a disaster in New Zealand.

``Public participation is always emphasised in disaster management, especially in recovery. How this plays out in real life is not always clear so I am doing a case study of public participation and how the recovery process was carried out under the Act.

``At the end of the day the recovery needs to reflect what people wanted and should increase resilience to future disasters.

``Hopefully my findings will help the Government make changes which allow the public to have meaningful participation in the way their communities are rebuilt after a disaster,’’ Kipp said.

He will also research aspects of the Civil Defence and Emergency Management Act and consider pre-disaster planning with the actual post-disaster processes. He is seeking lessons about the earthquakes to help build up knowledge of recovery so other countries could be better prepared.

``Earlier research taught us to emphasise reducing risk to avoid disasters which led to a paradigm shift in disaster management away from emphasising relief and response.

``It is about reducing risk by addressing vulnerabilities, both physical and social. Governments at the United Nations have agreed to a disaster reduction strategy based, in part, on a holistic approach.

``It’s not uncommon for disasters to be looked at as singular events - an earthquake caused the building to fall down, end of story. The holistic approach takes into account social factors that lead to certain groups taking the brunt of most disasters - namely the poor, women and children, socially marginalised groups.

``New Zealand was one of the first countries to adopt this approach to disaster management, which makes this country an important part of the international understanding about disasters.

``The aim is to help communities be more resilient to disasters and recover quickly while rebuilding better to avoid recurrences. It is an indicator of a good recovery if a community can rebuild before the next event and come through better than it did the previous time. It’s even better if it can avoid experiencing a disaster at all, though. ’’

ENDS

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