Reconstruction after disaster : a study of war-damaged villages in Lebanon : the case of Al-Burjain
This research focuses on the reconstruction of war-damaged villages in Lebanon destroyed during the recent civil war (1975-1991). Its main aim is to understand the complexity of reconstruction through a detailed case study of one village namely; al-Burjain. In contrast to top down approaches to reconstruction, this study presents an approach which extends beyond looking at physical aspects to socio-economic, cultural and political issues. It also attempts to gain insights into the conditions of the community prior to disaster, as well as the new situation which emerged after the destruction of the village. It develops an understanding of the conditions of the people, and their needs and perceptions about reconstruction. The research takes a qualitative approach because of its flexibility and appropriateness to the inquiry and practical conditions in the field. It is based on dynamic and interactive discussions with the community under study. Three methods are employed: discussion with key figures, detailed family case histories and a survey using semi-structured interviews of households. They reflect different degrees of focus on complexity of reconstruction and the conditions of the people. The village case study (micro) is discussed and evaluated in three contexts (macro). Firstly, it deals with the context of reconstruction after disaster in theoretical and conceptual terms and with reference to practical experiences (Algeria and Iran). Secondly, it is located within the conditions of the country in which there are increased channels of contacts and communications between rural and urban areas. Thirdly, it discusses the development of rural areas in Lebanon from traditional times to the beginning of the war in order to draw lessons and to identify problems, possibilities and obstacles which could be helpful in planning for meaningful reconstruction. The findings of the research cover two main part. The first part establishes principles and recommendations for the reconstruction of the vifiage studied. In this sense, it translates the insights gained into practical solutions. It proposes a way of capitalising on people's initiatives, maximizing the use of available resources, to solve existing problems and improve conditions. It is a developmental process. The second part draws an analytical framework which can be used to study similar cases. This framework is a generalised basis upon which the issues related to the complexity of post-disaster reconstruction can be examined and dealt with. Finally, this research formulates theoretical perspectives which will inform professional intervention and decision making in reconstruction after disaster.