Top-down reconstruction and the failure to “build back better” resilient communities after disaster: lessons from the 2009 L'Aquila Italy earthquake

Angelo Jonas Imperiale*, Frank Vanclay

*Bijbehorende auteur voor dit werk

OnderzoeksoutputAcademicpeer review

8 Citaten (Scopus)
32 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose: We consider what happened in the initial reconstruction interventions following the 6 April 2009 earthquake in L'Aquila (Italy). Using the disaster risk reduction and resilience paradigm, we discuss the cognitive and interactional failures of top-down approaches, and we analyse the main constraints to enacting inclusive social learning and socially-sustainable transformation and building back better more resilient communities in post-disaster reconstruction. Design/methodology/approach: Our evidence comes from participant observation, action anthropology and analytic auto-ethnography conducted during the reconstruction phase following the L'Aquila earthquake. Findings were triangulated with document analysis, media analysis and retrospective interviewing conducted in 2013 and 2017. Findings: The shift from civil defence to civil protection did not bring any advance in disaster management and development practice in terms of DRR and resilience. The militaristic command-and-control approach, which is still in vogue among civil protection systems, means that local political leaders become the civil protection authorities in a disaster area. As in the L'Aquila case, this exacerbates local social and environmental risks and impacts, inhibits local communities from learning and restricts them from participating in post-disaster interventions. Originality/value: Most previous commentary on disaster recovery and reconstruction following the L'Aquila earthquake has focussed on the top-down approach carried out by the national government and the Italian Department of Civil Protection (DCP). This paper is unique in that it sheds light on how the command-and-control approach was also implemented by local authority figures and on how this undermined building back better more resilient communities.

Originele taal-2English
Pagina's (van-tot)541-555
Aantal pagina's15
TijdschriftDisaster Prevention and Management: An International Journal
Nummer van het tijdschrift4
Vroegere onlinedatum11-apr-2020
StatusPublished - 10-mei-2020

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