Saturday, April 13, 2013

Hurricane Sandy and client centric services

Since Hurricane Sandy I have written and sent out to several journals and shorter articles to newspapers addressing two points: (1) the need for psychosocial support for all the disaster affected people and (2) the importance of engaging the disaster affected people in the recovery process and ultimately planning for their future. This morning I received the sixth note of rejection. The issues are not related to the theoretical basis of the argument but to “grammatical errors that may district the reader”. I shouldn’t feel in angst, I have lived in this country long enough to realize that outsiders are not really welcomed, especially if they have an accent or if they don’t have a mastery of the written language.

Let me try one last time to articulate what I am trying to say based on more than thirty years of experience working disaster response in over 32 countries in the world.

1.     Recovery process doesn’t belong exclusively to the external stakeholders. If the recovery plan is not viewed positively by the affected people it may not work well. Acceptance by both groups will dictate the level and quality of participation that has to take place in the development of the recovery plan if the final goal is “a resilient and healthier community”.

2.     If resettlement is necessary in areas with large number “undocumented residents”, then develop an appropriate level of assistance, have the disaster-affected people involved in designing and implementing of their recovery, and minimize adverse psychosocial negative impact.  

3.     Articulate interests and needs so as to reflect the complexity and multi-dimensionality of the recovery process. Have patience, steps toward resilience must be nimble, the gestation period with all stakeholders will strengthen the social fabric of place, neighborhood and community networks.

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