Social Capital: A Missing Link to Disaster Recovery

March 2004 (VOL. 22, NO. 1)

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Post-disaster recovery processes should be considered as opportunities for development, by revitalizing the local economy and upgrading livelihoods and living conditions. social capital, which is defined as a function of trust, social norms, participation, and network, can play an important role in recovery. This paper examines the role of social capital in the post earthquake rehabilitation and reconstruction programs in two cases: Kobe, Japan and Gujarat, India. The Kobe case study shows that the community with social capital and with a tradition of community activities can pro-actively participate in the reconstruction program, and thereby can make a successful and speedy recovery. a model for bonding, bridging and linking social capital was developed from the Kobe experience, and was applied to Gujarat in four different communities. It was observed that the community with social capital records the highest satisfaction rate for the new town planning and has the sppediest recovery rate. The role of community leaders has been prominent in utilizing social capital in the recovery process, and facilitating collective decision-making. Thus, although the two case studies differ in socio-economic and cultural contexts, the communities’ social capital and leadership are found to be the most effective elements in both cases in enhancing collective actions and disaster recovery.