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International Recovery Platform

From relief to recovery

Disasters offer unique, if transient, opportunities for change. Relief efforts in a disaster scenario can serve not only to reverse losses but to spearhead long-term sustainable recovery. As the United Nations agency mandated since 1998 with responsibility for disaster management, prevention and vulnerability reduction, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) viewed its intervention in Gujarat, following the devastating earthquake of January 2001, as an entry point for long-term sustainable development. From the standpoint of UNDP as the development arm of the United Nations, transition to recovery is essentially a development activity, which grasps the opportunities offered by crisis to make the transition from unsustainable to sustainable development.

This report presents a practical application of the UNDP concept of transition recovery designed over the last three years. The concept is premised on the belief that whatever the type and scale of disaster, the period of transition from relief to recovery is the most critical. In the period when relief is done but recovery is yet to begin, vulnerable groups are especially at risk. The period of transition thus not only determines whether people attain recovery or rebuild risk; it also determines whether the process of recovery leads to sustainable development or hastens a downward spiral of development and livelihoods. The challenge is to cross this transition while protecting the interests of the weakest groups and launching sustainable recovery.

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