Faculty of Engineering


Managing resources in post-disaster recovery projects

We are living in a world of natural hazards, with the most devastating disasters taking place anywhere and at anytime. Following a major disaster, however, conventional project management is not applicable to disaster recovery projects.






Massive resource shortfalls arise as a result of disaster impacts on markets and normal procurement systems. Evidence shows that disaster affected regions may face resourcing problems, such as shortages of building materials, lack of builders, market inflation, and increased cost of rebuilding, all of which can translate into frustration for communities as they attempt to recover. Set against this, we aim to empirically identify the key constraints that impede disaster-affected communities from securing resources for rebuilding their houses after a major event.

Large-scale disasters in recent years such as the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami in Indonesia, the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake in China and the 2009 Victorian ‘Black Saturday’ bushfires in Australia, causing significant damage and human losses to communities, were labeled as the worst disasters in the country’s history respectively. However, these events offered unusual opportunities for us to assess the resourcing approach that had been in operation during the recovery period.

We conducted a series of research field visits between 2008 and 2010 to the three countries - Indonesia, China and Australia; and examined their post-disaster reconstruction process with respect to resource availability and management for housing recovery. The lessons learned from these events will help improve the management of resources for housing recovery projects in future disasters or in other disaster-prone countries.

Key focus areas/issues

The study seeks to achieve the following objectives:

  • To identify the constraints that lead to difficulty in resourcing for post-disaster housing recovery projects.
  • To investigate the individual post-disaster circumstances and implications of resource availability on post-disaster reconstruction performance.
  • To ascertain the common resourcing issues that may challenge disaster impacted communities.
  • To develop lessons learned from the disaster impacted countries of Indonesia, China and Australia, and identify relevance to New Zealand.

Current major developments

Working with CARE International in Banda Aceh, Indonesia, field observation and participation had been carried out over a three month period between March and May 2008.

A field longitudinal study in China including a series of field visits to the earthquake affected region have been carried out over a one and a half year period since June 2008.  This included visits six weeks, 6 months, 12 months  and 20 months after the earthquake, to monitor pricing of the essential construction materials required for housing reconstruction.

Two research field visits were conducted to the bushfire affected areas in Australia in August 2009 six months after the bushfires, and in July 2010, one and a half years after the bushfires.

An advice note was submitted through the ‘Resilient Organisations’ to the New Zealand industry, regarding the resourcing issue for post-earthquake reconstruction in Christchurch after the September 4th 2010 Darfield earthquake.


Key achievements

A comparative analysis in our research shows that specific cultural elements such as the socio-economic environment and the political agenda in the three countries influenced their resourcing problems and the solutions they adopted. The factors that affected resource availability in disaster recovery projects vary from one country to another. The generic factors identified across the three countries include competence of contractor/builder, and government response and intervention.

In general, apart from non-governmental organisations competence of resource procurement, community-related housing features in Aceh, Indonesia, including housing type, housing culture and customs, and community influence and participation, played a predominant role in resource procurement.  Factors relating to project control and management including project schedule, project resourcing plan, competence of construction professionals and resource procurement lead time, were more dominant for resourcing management in China.

In comparison, in Australia, changed building standards, an active housing market outside the bushfire regions, insufficient government support, and lack of competence of construction practitioners created an external ‘impact chain’ on a house owners’ ability to resource the rebuilding of their homes. These external impediments, along with internal constraints including lack of property insurance and social vulnerabilities within the affected communities, have shaped bushfire housing recovery.


Key people

  • Alice Yan Chang
    PhD candidate, Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • Regan Potangaroa
    School of Architecture (ScALA), UNITEC
  • Erica Seville
    Civil Engineering, University of Canterbury


Suzanne Wilkinson
Email: s.wilkinson@auckland.ac.nz
Phone: +64 9 373 7599 ext 88184

Yan Chang:
E-mail: ycha233@aucklanduni.ac.nz


Related publications

 Chang, Y., Wilkinson, S. Potangaroa, R.and Seville, E. 2011. Chapter 4 Resourcing for post-disaster reconstruction: A longitudinal case study following the earthquake in China. In Book Reconstructing for Resilience: Strategies for building sustainable communities after a disaster. Edited by D. Amaratunga and R. Haigh, London, Wiley-Blackwell.

Chang, Y., Wilkinson, S. Potangaroa, R.and Seville, E. 2011.  Donor-driven resource procurement for post-disaster reconstruction: Constraints and actions. Habitat International, vol. 35(2), pp. 199-205.

Chang, Y., Wilkinson, S. Potangaroa, R.and Seville, E. 2011. Identifying factors affecting resource availability for post-disaster reconstruction: a case study in China. Construction Management and Economics, vol. 29(1), pp. 37-48.

Chang, Y., Wilkinson, S. Potangaroa, R.and Seville, E., 2010.  Interpreting resourcing bottlenecks of post-Wenchuan earthquake reconstruction in China. International Journal of Strategic Property Management, vol. 14, pp. 314-331.

Chang, Y., Wilkinson, S., Seville, E. and Potangaroa, R., 2010.  Resourcing for a resilient post-disaster reconstruction environment. International Journal of Disaster Resilience in the Built Environment , vol. 1(1), pp.  65-83.

Chang, Y., Wilkinson, S. Potangaroa, R.and Seville, E., 2010.  Resourcing challenges for post-disaster housing reconstruction: A comparative analysis, Building Research and Information, vol. 38(3), 247-264.

Chang, Y., Wilkinson, S., Seville, E. and Potangaroa, R., 2010. Interpreting resourcing bottlenecks of post-earthquake reconstruction in China. CIB World Congress 2010. Manchester, UK.

Chang, Y., Wilkinson, S. Potangaroa, R.and Seville, E., 2010. Resources and capacity: lessons learned from post-disaster reconstruction resourcing in Indonesia, China and Australia. COBRA Paris, France.

Chang, Y., Potangaroa, R., Wilkinson, S., Seville, E. and Zuo K., 2009.  Empowerment and capacity building: recovery lessons from an earthquake in China. MCDEM Tephra 22(July): 38-41.

Chang, Y., Wilkinson, S., Seville, E. and Potangaroa, R., 2009. Capacity empowerment and building: integrated recovery management framework in China. First International Conference on Disaster Management and Human Health: Reducing Risk, Improving Outcomes. New Forest, UK, Wessex Institute of Technology, UK.


This project has been made possible with the support of the ‘Resilient Organisations’ research program (2004-2010) www.resorgs.org.nz.