With 2010 witnessing the second highest number of global disasters in history, climate change has spurred interest concerning how non-governmental organizations (NGOs) should respond with long-term development strategies in post-disaster communities, especially those in fragile states. This comparative case study examines how two intentional Honduran communities built for survivors (comprised of traumatized and displaced poor people) of Hurricane Mitch (1998), Divina Providencia and Ciudad España, developed since the disaster. Although initially similar based on demographics, the communities are dramatically different today in social health (defined as low crime, social capital, social cohesion, vision, sustainability, and community participation). My doctoral research combines household surveys (N=1,918), 74 interviews, nine months of ethnography, and archival research in an analysis of what mechanisms shaped the social health trajectory of each community.
I found that both communities have had varying degrees of success and conflict due in large part to the Honduran context and decisions and practices implemented by sponsoring non-governmental organization including: time horizons/long-term commitment, organizational resources, spatial design, community size, and coercive mechanisms by the organizations. Although both communities faced similar constraints, such as trauma and broken social networks, Divina overcame many hurdles with the help of a strong NGO presence, organizational resources, a long-term commitment, and coercive means. It was able to foster cultural structures that created a healthier community than resident pre-Mitch neighborhoods in Tegucigalpa. Certain emergent norms of community life prevented the Divina community from falling back upon old structures and norms (which were inequitable and socially unhealthy). However, its top-down paternalist approach led to protests by community residents, the creation of dependency on the NGO, and issues of possible long-term sustainability without organizational support. While Ciudad España did have better social health than the former communities in Tegucigalpa, its partnership approach failed to establish emergent norms that would have promoted stronger social health indicators. There was less NGO influence, fewer organizational resources over time, shorter time commitment, and almost no coercive means. Although España has lower social health than Divina, the community has had less conflict and is more independent.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. June 2012. Major: Sociology. Advisor: Ronald Aminzade. 1 computer file (PDF); xii, 403 pages, appendix p. 390-403.
Alaniz, Ryan Chelese.
From tragedy to opportunity: long-term development in post-disaster intentional communities in Honduras..
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