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Keywords:

  • housing;
  • informal settlements;
  • post-disaster;
  • tenure;
  • vulnerability reduction

Although the development community has long recognised that securing land tenure and improving housing design can benefit significantly informal settlement residents, there is little research on these issues in communities exposed to natural disasters and hazards. Informal settlements often are located on land left vacant because of inherent risks, such as floodplains, and there is a long history worldwide of disasters affecting informal settlements. This research tackles the following questions: how can informal settlement vulnerabilities be reduced in a post-disaster setting?; and what are the key issues to address in post-disaster reconstruction? The main purpose of the paper is to develop a set of initial guidelines for post-disaster risk reduction in informal settlements, stressing connections to tenure and housing/community design in the reconstruction process. The paper examines disaster and reconstruction responses in two disaster-affected regions—Jimani, Dominican Republic, and Vargas State, Venezuela—where informal settlements have been hit particularly hard.