Evaluating reconstruction effects on urban resilience: a comparison between two Chilean tsunami-prone cities


Facing natural disasters is a priority challenge for cities, exacerbated by increases in urban population and climate change. Improving the resilience of cities is a critical need for the international community and especially for territories exposed to multiple risks, such as Chile. Although disasters are always tragic, the recovery and reconstruction post-disaster may provide a unique opportunity to prevent future suffering, enhancing the resilience of local communities. This paper presents the analysis of two Chilean reconstruction programmes applied in Mehuin and Dichato, after the earthquake and tsunami of 22 May 1960 and 27 February 2010, respectively. In both cases, reconstruction programmes were supported by the Chilean Government, but using different approaches: one focused on providing housing for people injured in the earthquake, while the other also included urban amenities and services. This article proposes an urban morphology analysis framework; in addition, it presents the assessment of the two case studies before and after a disaster, thus evaluating their resilience. By comparing urban morphology resilience pre- and post-disaster, a discussion about the effectiveness of two reconstruction approaches is presented. Finally, conclusions and recommendations to better integrate resilience into urban planning are proposed, with the aim of opening the discussion about how to make cities more resilient to natural disasters.

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Fig. 1

Source: Elaborated by authors

Fig. 2

Source: Esri, Mop-Government of Chile, Elaborated by authors

Fig. 3

Source: Author elaborated started from ESRI map, digital cartography of Mehuin Municipality and ONEMI

Fig. 4

Source: Author elaborated started from ESRI map, digital cartography of Mehuin Municipality and ONEMI

Fig. 5

Source: Author elaborated started from digital cartography of Dichato Municipality

Fig. 6

Source: Author elaborated started from digital cartography of Dichato Municipality

Fig. 7

Source: Author elaborated started from digital cartography of Dichato Municipality

Fig. 8

Source: Author elaborated started from digital cartography of Dichato Municipality


  1. 1.

    The Housing Corporation (the Spanish-language acronym: CORVI) was founded in 1953 with the aim of centralizing the national government’s actions related to social housing provision. After the 1960 earthquake, CORVI and CORFO were the institutions in charge of organizing public resources for housing reconstruction.

  2. 2.

    Production Development Corporation (CORFO) is a Chilean governmental organization that was founded in 1939 to promote economic growth in Chile. CORFO oversees a variety of programs aimed at generating the economic development of Chile, through the creation of national basic industries such as energy, oil, steel and sugar.

  3. 3.

    Later on, in 1974, the ONEMI (the National Emergency Office) was created with the aim of planning and coordinating the use of human and material resources from the institutions, and from public and private services, to prevent or reduce damage from earthquakes, disasters or public calamities (BCN 2015).


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The paper has been developed partially using the results obtained in the I-2014-11 and PEF-2014-01 and CONICYT Program-Fondecyt N.1150137 research projects.

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Correspondence to Irina Tumini.

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Tumini, I., Villagra-Islas, P. & Herrmann-Lunecke, G. Evaluating reconstruction effects on urban resilience: a comparison between two Chilean tsunami-prone cities. Nat Hazards 85, 1363–1392 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11069-016-2630-4

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  • Post-disaster reconstruction
  • Urban resilience
  • Urban morphology indicators
  • Earthquake
  • Tsunami