Our Programmes



Sign up to our newsletter.

Follow ODI

Can disasters become an opportunity? Indonesia launch event

Time (GMT +00) 10:30 12:00

Lilianne Fan - author of the report – ‘Disaster as opportunity? Building back better in Aceh, Myanmar and Haiti’ and Research Fellow in the Humanitarian Policy Group at the Overseas Development Institute (ODI).

Dr. William Sabandar - appointed Special Envoy to the Secretary-General of ASEAN for Post-Nargis Recovery in Myanmar and Head of ASEAN Humanitarian Task Force Operation from 2009 — 2010. He was Head of Nias Recovery at the Indonesian Agency for Post-Tsunami Reconstruction of Aceh and Nias (BRR Aceh-Nias) between 2005 and 2009.

Josef Leitmann
 - Manager of the $400 million Haiti Reconstruction Fund. He was the World Bank’s disaster management coordinator for Indonesia and was the founder/first manager of the $650 million Multi Donor Fund for Aceh and Nias following the Indian Ocean tsunami.

Tan Sri Dr. Jemilah Mahmood
- active member of the United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination team and on the boards of Humanitarian Accountability Partnership, Médecins du Monde and Teach for Malaysia. She chairs the Humanitarian Innovation Fund grants panel UK.


Anita Kendrick - Governance and Environment Specialist, The World Bank, Indonesia.


Join us for the Jakarta launch event of the Humanitarian Policy Group’s ‘Disaster as opportunity? Building back better in Aceh, Myanmar and Haiti’, a paper that seeks to contribute to the resilience debate through an examination of what ‘build back better’ meant in three disaster responses, the Indian Ocean tsunami in Aceh, Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar and the earthquake in Haiti.​

In 2004 the Indian Ocean tsunami devastated the lives of millions of people across 14 countries. The response took on the responsibility not only to save lives or even restore livelihoods, but to leave disaster struck communities safer and stronger than before the tsunami. This goal became known as ‘build back better’; a slogan frequently heard again throughout humanitarian responses to Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar in 2008 and the Haiti earthquake of 2010. Even today the ideal remains: the language of ‘building back better’ and ‘bouncing back better from crises’ is now common in the call for emergency agencies to take responsibility for incorporating ‘resilience building’ in their response. 

But what exactly should ‘better’ look like? Better for whom, where, how? Is there anything in common in what those who speak of building back better mean - can it even be called an approach at all? Is it right to invest in building back better if it distracts attention and money away from the urgent and often overwhelming need to feed, treat and shelter people who have nothing but the clothes they stand up in? These are questions that can also be applied to the Philippines response, as the country recovers from Typhoon Haiyan.


Please email Clare Price - Senior Communications Officer, Humanitarian Policy Group, Overseas Development Institute (ODI), on [email protected]

The World Bank, BEJ Building Tower II, Floor 12, Madura and Malaka Rooms, Jakarta