Recupera Chile is a network of partners led by Harvard University including academic, non-profit, and private and public sector organizations that have come together to provide a range of services for recovery aiming to serve as a model for community-based recovery.
Recupera Chile works in the communities of Cobquecura, Dichato, Perales and selected coast areas of the Biobío Region to serve as a prototype for how disaster-recovery best practices can be applied. Taken together, these communities are meant to serve as an international model for community-based recovery after a disaster.
1. NETWORK AND LOCAL CAPABILITIES BUILDING
Recupera Chile is a comprehensive, intersectoral initiative supported by the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies at Harvard University (DRCLAS). Recupera Chile brings together community, governmental and academic partners with the goal of leveraging community and academic knowledge and expertise in support of these three southern Chile communities. Recupera Chile aims to create local and international networks to implement the projects in the short term as well as to build long-term solutions for sustainability.
2. RECOVERY AND DEVELOPMENT PLAN
Recupera Chile recognizes the community as the main driver of the recovery/development process and because of that, the community has a central role to play. A recovery/development plan is designed with the community following a bottom-up approach in which the planning team receives the inputs from the local government, community leaders and associations and local entrepreneurs and then puts in place the community-driven plan. The recovery/development plan consists of a thoughtful analysis and a long-term objective (improvement of the quality of life), which in turn is composed of a series of individual projects and actions that follow a bottom-up approach. These projects are identified and prioritized by the community and supported by Recupera Chile.
Recupera Chile seeks to improve living conditions, well-being and productivity in coastal communities that were devastated in 2010 by the earthquake and tsunamis. Recupera Chile focuses on 4 dimensions of the recovery process: built, economic, social and cultural/heritage.
Recupera Chile is focusing on developing local projects using traditional methods and materials such as adobe, piedra laja and others so new projects developed in the communities have a link with their past and common stories.
Recupera Chile is providing technical and analytical capacity building for local entrepreneurs and creating municipal level economic recovery/development plans. For a project to be sustainable, the community must lead and manage it. Our goal is to provide community members with the capacities needed so that they can work with local authorities and leaders to develop a coherent plan toward common goals for community recovery and betterment.
Recupera Chile aims to strengthen the communities’ resilience, to test and support childhood education and mental health and to help define unique social needs and structures that these communities may face or need.
Recupera Chile cultivates traditional artisan networks to help communities recover their identities while build up and support local cultural institutions. Recupera Chile puts local traditions, common history, culture and community’s vision in a crucial place and therefore is developing projects with the community to reinforce these institutions and networks and help them find a sustainable way to keep cultivating their work.
In February 2010, an 8.8 earthquake and tsunami hit off the central coast of Chile affecting 25% of the national population. To date it is the sixth largest in recorded history.
This initiative started in 2011 with the visit of Harvard University’s president, Dr. Drew Faust and the crucial collaboration of the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies (DRCLAS) in Santiago. The DRCLAS Regional Office team conducted meetings with Chilean colleagues as part of the recovery planning process and determined that Recupera Chile could best serve by focusing efforts on three hard-hit coastal communities. In January, 2012, Harvard Kennedy School Professor Doug Ahlers then led a two-week intensive consulting project by three Harvard Kennedy School teams as well as faculty members from the Harvard Graduate School of Design and the Harvard Medical School. These teams worked with the communities to create an economic development plan and to present business plans for government funding. In addition, they collaborated on planning for building and social service projects as an integrated disaster recovery strategy.
Despite months and then years of local and national government assistance, as late as spring of 2013, several Chileans were still living in displaced housing with little hope of their former lives on the horizon. The Harvard academic community had many connections to Chile before the earthquake and felt the need to reach out to the communities still languishing from this horrific event, thus the collaborative program of Recupera Chile was created.