Recovery with Dignity is a two-year-long research project, jointly implemented by the Indian Institute for Human Settlements (IIHS), Bengaluru and the University of East Anglia (UEA), Norwich, United Kingdom. Funded by the British Academy, the project aims to understand experiences of recovery in post-disaster situations across three states in India – Odisha, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala, and examine how recovery processes and actors represent vulnerable populations.
Odisha and Tamil Nadu have a long history of disasters such as the 1999 super-cyclone and 2013 Cyclone Phailin in Odisha, and the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami and 2015 Chennai floods in Tamil Nadu. These events mobilised multiple forms of humanitarian action, through a range of stakeholders- government, civil society, international aid agencies, the private sector and various citizen groups. Despite several positive steps aimed towards strengthening disaster management, deep structural challenges to sustainable recovery remain. Central to effective and inclusive recovery processes is how disaster-affected communities are portrayed, following the event and how this shapes the recovery and other support processes that are desirable and implemented. Keeping this in mind, the Recovery with Dignity project aims to cover the evolution of disaster management, with a detailed focus on how the losses, long-term needs, and voices of affected communities are represented through the media, official reporting, and other registers. The project is committed to a strong element of ‘research for impact’, where we aim to work directly with affected communities in Kerala towards identifying strategies to strengthen their voice, particularly around their needs and capacities. We aim to do this through qualitative research tools such as interviews, stakeholder mapping, policy review and media analysis as well as creative, art-based approaches such as bottom-up storytelling and community-led exhibitions.