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Human behavior response to disaster-caused environmental changes: A case of fishermen community, San José de Chamanga, affected by the 2016 Ecuador earthquake
1  The University of Tokyo


The resilience is the ability to respond against damages. It can be attributed to the individual or collective ‘substance’, to the ‘process’ that the ability is displayed or to the reactive ‘force’ as its expression. This paper focuses on the third aspect, the resilience as a ‘force’. When the man-made urban fabric of the settlement is experienced drastic environmental changes or damaged by a fatal disaster, the affected community responds with its force of resilience. It is the moment that “the ability of people to shape their own environment” [1] is highly exercised.

The target area is a fishermen community, San José de Chamanga, in Ecuador affected by the 2016 Ecuador earthquake. The purpose of this paper is to reveal the force of resilience displayed --- how people have been reshaping their own environment after the disaster and the people’s behavior responding the process of government-led reconstruction. Semi-structured interviews have been conducted to 74 people for two months in total. The major findings are:

1) People’s access to waterfront land where they had used before the earthquake was endangered because of the damages by the earthquake and consecutively the relocation policy has kept people off.

2) People have maintained their access to waterfront and fishing habit using their former houses or survived friend’s houses as a workplace and a storage even if they had moved to relocated houses in inland districts.

It is concluded that the natural reactive behavior of people and the direction of post-disaster reconstruction policy were incoherent. On the basis of these findings, an alternative reconstruction strategy that takes into consideration the force of resilience displayed by affected people is proposed.

[1] Illich, Ivan(1973, 2009) Tools for Conviviality. Marion Boyars. London.

Keywords: resilience; post-disaster; reconstruction