Recovery with Dignity is a three-year long project (2018-2021), jointly implemented by the Indian Institute for Human Settlements (IIHS), Bengaluru and the University of East Anglia (UEA), Norwich, United Kingdom. Funded by the British Academy, the project aims to understand experiences of recovery in post-disaster situations across three states in India – Odisha, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala, and examine how recovery processes and actors represent vulnerable populations.

At the heart of the project is a focus on recognising and respecting the dignity of affected populations. In the initial rush to respond to disaster events, the rights, voices and ways in which affected populations are represented can homogenise and undermine rather than support their dignity, prolonging the experience of trauma and, ultimately, the time it takes to recover. Longer-term responses to disaster events then tend to view the recovery process through technocratic and managerial fixes, downplaying the more human-focused aspects (e.g. the psychosocial elements) and ignoring the individual and socially-differentiated ways in which disaster and recovery are experienced.​

Focusing initially on experiences of major disaster events in Odisha (1999 and 2013) and Tamil Nadu (2004, 2015, and 2018), the project uses archival research, narrative analysis and interview techniques to understand existing framings of recovery. In a second phase the project applies this knowledge to challenge dominant forms of representation in contemporary post-disaster contexts. Impact is built into the fabric of the project through the integration of research with engagement and dissemination activities.

The Central Objectives were to:​

  1. Advance understanding on how, by whom and for what purposes events, processes and experiences of recovery have been framed and communicated in the post-disaster phase;​
  2. Use this critical understanding to highlight how the dignity, voices, rights and needs of disaster-affected people might be better supported over the long term;​
  3. Work directly with communities in India experiencing the aftermath of recent disasters to help strengthen people’s voice in shaping the paths of memorialisation and rehabilitation.​