UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Community vulnerability and capacity in post-disaster recovery: the cases of Mano and Mikura neighbourhoods in the wake of the 1995 Kobe earthquake Yasui, Etsuko


This is a study of how two small neighbourhoods, Mano and Mikura, recovered from the 1995 Kobe (Japan) earthquake, with a particular focus on the relationship between community vulnerability and capacity. Few studies have examined these interactions, even though vulnerability reduction is recognized to be a vital component of community recovery. Drawing from literature on disaster recovery, community development, vulnerability analysis, community capacity building and the Kobe earthquake, a community vulnerability and capacity model is elaborated from Blaikie et al.’s Pressure and Release Model (1994) to analyze the interactions. The Mano and Mikura cases are analyzed by applying this model and relating outcomes to the community’s improved safety and quality of community lives. Based on the experience of Mano, appropriate long-term community development practices as well as community capacity building efforts in the past can contribute to the reduction of overall community vulnerability in the post-disaster period, while it is recovering. On the other hand, the Mikura case suggests that even though the community experiences high physical and social vulnerability in the pre-disaster period, if the community is able to foster certain conditions, including active CBOs, adequate availability and accessibility to resources, and a collaborative working relationship with governments, the community can make progress on recovery. Although both Mano and Mikura communities achieved vulnerability reduction as well as capacity building, the long-term sustainability of the two communities remains uncertain, as issues and challenges, such as residual and newly emerging physical vulnerability, negative or slow population growth and aging, remained to create vulnerability to future disasters. The case studies reveal the interactions of community vulnerability and capacity to be highly complex and contingent on many contextual considerations.

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