Disaster recovery and reconstruction
: harnessing capacity and building resilience within communities affected by flooding

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Flooding related disasters are rising both in magnitude and intensity across the UK. As a consequence, significant attention is now being paid to understanding, managing and mitigating such events. While most of this attention has centred on government funded intervention and policy development, community-based resilience methods and approaches have assumed increased prominence in recent years. Community resilience is fundamental to the ability of communities to recover after an adverse event, by enabling them to harness their own capacity and become active, rather than passive, agents in the recovery process. Evidence, however, suggests that improvements in resilience have been inhibited by a lack of frameworks developed within the community, for the community and with a view to capturing resilience capacity over time.

Addressing this gap, this thesis focuses on enhancing awareness of resilience in post-disaster affected communities by developing a framework to enable capacity building. The study employs a mixed methods research design, combining a range of qualitative and quantitative methods including: secondary data analysis; social network analysis (including social media); and key stakeholder interviews. Interviews were conducted at the community, regional and national level to examine perceptions of resilience, drivers of and barriers to resilience, acceptable methods for enhancing resilience and validation of the proposed framework. The data analysis approach was twofold: firstly, network visualisation software was used to analyse social network data; and, secondly, a qualitative data analysis package was used to undertake a systematic and flexible ‘Framework method’ analysis of the interview transcripts.

While there were many substantial findings, the principal conclusions from this analysis illustrate the ability of communities to harness their own capacity to cope, adapt or transform in the aftermath of a flood event. In addition, the study illuminates nuances between how resilience presents itself at the rural and urban scale. The emergent use of social media was also found to play a valuable role in strengthening community resilience through information dissemination and galvanising the connectedness of communities. The research further highlighted the need for an integrated approach to planning and development decisions, between xx all interested parties across the catchment. Finally, the research argues for the development of innovative resilience standards (including certificates, codes, and regulations), supported by the insurance industry, which adapt and respond to the increasing threat posed by flooding within the built environment.
Date of AwardOct 2018
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorStanley Mc Greal (Supervisor), Martin Haran (Supervisor) & David Mc Ilhatton (Supervisor)


  • Disaster
  • Resilience
  • Community
  • Reconstruction
  • Flooding

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