Regional Environmental Change

, Volume 18, Issue 4, pp 1211–1222 | Cite as

Long-term recovery narratives following major disasters in Southeast Asia

  • Frank ThomallaEmail author
  • Louis Lebel
  • Michael Boyland
  • Danny Marks
  • Ham Kimkong
  • Sinh Bach Tan
  • Agus Nugroho
Original Article


Most studies of major disasters focus on the impacts of the event and the short-term responses. Some evaluate the underlying causes of vulnerability, but few follow-up events years later to evaluate the consequences of early framings of the recovery process. The objective of this study was to improve understanding of the influence that recovery narratives have had on how decisions and actions are undertaken to recover from a disaster, and what influence this has had in turn, on long-term resilience. The study drew on comparisons and insights from four case studies in Southeast Asia: (1) local innovations that led to new policies for living with floods in the Mekong Delta in Vietnam following the 2001 Mekong River floods; (2) livelihood and infrastructure responses in Prey Veng, Cambodia, after the 2001 and 2011 Mekong River floods; (3) the role of the Panglima Laot, a traditional fisheries management institution, in the recovery process following the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami in Aceh province, Indonesia; and (4) the challenges faced by small and medium enterprises in a market area following the 2011 floods in Bangkok, Thailand. This study identified alternative narratives on the purpose and means of ‘recovery’ with implications for who ultimately benefits and who remains at risk. The study also found both formal and informal loss and damage systems were involved in recoveries. The findings of this study are important for improving the performance of loss and damage systems, both existing and planned, and, ultimately, supporting more climate resilient development that is inclusive.


Disasters Long-term recovery Narratives Loss and damage Resilience Southeast Asia 



The authors would like to thank the Asia Pacific Network for Global Environmental Change Research (APN) for supporting the research presented in this report. Thanks also to many individuals who helped with data collection in the field or agreed to be interviewed or provide information to the project. Special thanks, in particular, to Suttirak San-ngah, Dton Siriwan, Dr. Nguyen Duy Can, Nguyen Quynh Anh and Do Thuy Ngan.

Supplementary material

10113_2017_1260_MOESM1_ESM.docx (161 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 161 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Stockholm Environment Institute - Asia CentreChulalongkorn UniversityBangkokThailand
  2. 2.Unit for Social and Environmental ResearchChiang Mai University School of Public PolicyChiang MaiThailand
  3. 3.Stockholm Environment Institute - Asia CentreBangkokThailand
  4. 4.Department of Asian and International StudiesCity University of Hong KongKowloon TongHong Kong
  5. 5.Center for Social Development StudiesChulalongkorn UniversityBangkokThailand
  6. 6.Department of Natural Resource Management and DevelopmentRoyal University of Phnom PenhPhnom PenhCambodia
  7. 7.Research Centre of Science and Technology Policy, National Institute for Science and Technology Policy and Strategy Studies (NISTPASS)Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST)HanoiVietnam

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