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Title:Towns undergoing changes: a case study on the recovery after the Wenchuan earthquake, China
Author(s):Jiang, Wenjing
Advisor(s):Olshansky, Robert B.
Department / Program:Urban & Regional Planning
Discipline:Urban Planning
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):post-disaster recovery planning
Wenchuan Earthquake
Abstract:Post-disaster recovery is a complicated and dynamic socio-economic-political process, with time compression as the key feature that differentiates it from normal development procedures. The devastating Wenchuan Earthquake in China occurred on May 12, 2008, and its recovery process provides a unique case for post-disaster recovery research with its rapid reconstruction under a government-led top-down process, in particular a national counterpart assistance program. How did they recover so quickly? What were the accomplishments and risks under the tight time constraints? What decisions were made locally and by whom? And what were the key factors influencing speed and deliberation during the whole process? This thesis conducts a case study of Shuimo in Wenchuan County to address these questions. Based on a multi-disciplinary approach, this research has identified achievements in physical recovery, economic recovery, environmental improvement, and landscape enhancement. However, the top-down political system entitled the assistance groups as outsiders more power than local residents and officials in the decision making process, creating some potential costs to the disaster affected area, including a lack of consideration to the details of physical recovery, previous lifestyles, normal educational activities, and the local value systems. In addition, the recovery caused potential regional inequities, which should draw the attention of policy makers. Despite all these uncertainties and questions unanswered, there are several lessons we can learn from this case: (1) The counterpart assistance system can address the needs of both speed and quality and it can allow both knowledge sharing and innovations in post-disaster recovery, but policy makers should adjust the design of such programs in the future according to the situation at hand; (2) Post-disaster recovery planning can be powerful in financing reconstruction projects, yet a powerful planning process might lead to potential social costs for localities, calling for careful use of it; (3) Planners should use their power to attract external resources, be innovative to balance speed and deliberation, and address the mismatch between local needs and outsiders’ visions during the recovery planning process.
Issue Date:2014-09-16
Rights Information:Copyright 2014 Wenjing Jiang
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-09-16
Date Deposited:2014-08

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