Template for post-quake reconstruction

Updated: 2016-05-17 08:09

By Sylvia Chang in Hong Kong(HK Edition)

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The "Sichuan Model" for the post-earthquake reconstruction is based on eight years of social work towards helping the affected people of Yingxiu town, Sichuan province, to cope with psychological trauma and rebuild the social fabric of their community.

As Lena Dominelli, professor in the School of Applied Social Sciences in Durham University said, the practice of the "locality specific, culturally relevant" principle in the model has helped to meet specific needs of each locality, and it can be applied in other disaster-stricken places in China and overseas.

The key principles of the model according to Dominelli are: do no harm, respect people in the community, listen to them and draw on people's strengths to overcome their problems, work toward solving problems together, interact with the community about people's daily lives to build understanding; enhance resilience and self-help and provide resources from outside to augment internal ones when necessary.

The eight-year social work program, led mainly by Timothy Sim Boon-wee, associate professor in the Department of Applied Social Sciences, Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU), is conducted under the aegis of China's first Institute for Disaster Management and Reconstruction jointly founded by Sichuan University and PolyU.

The institute is committed to educating and training disaster prevention and mitigation professionals who in turn will be able to train others dedicated to working in disaster-prone places in the world. It also undertakes research in disaster management and reconstruction. So far the institute has set up three departments: medical science, safety science and disaster reduction, and disaster-related applied social sciences.

"We are working to transform the experience and principles our teachers learned from overseas into a practice that would fit a specific place in China," said Angelina Yuen Tsang Woon-ki, vice-president of PolyU and a scholar in social work.

Yuen encouraged professors and teachers in PolyU to work with their counterparts in mainland universities by engaging their professional research abilities with the local practice.

"In this process we study and reflect, to create a more practical way in managing disasters. Step by step, we expect to build a post-disaster reconstruction model suited to the Chinese situation which will eventually resonate overseas," Yuen said.


 Template for post-quake reconstruction

A dried-up canal runs between the reconstructed Yingxiu town on the right and the ruins of the middle school on the left.

 Template for post-quake reconstruction

A wall in memory of the Yingxiu Elementary School, destroyed in Wenchuan earthquake.

 Template for post-quake reconstruction

Yingxiu residents take part in a Guozhuang dance on the eve of the eighth anniversary of the earthquake.

(HK Edition 05/17/2016 page9)