KASHMIR POST-QUAKE RECONSTRUCTION: ANALYSING INTERDEPENDENCE OF CULTURE AND POLICY
This paper examines the complex interdependence of culture and policies in post 2005 Kashmir earthquake reconstruction and highlights the innovative steps taken by community and ERRA (Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority) Pakistan. Centering the results of surveys of the area, the intricate relationship of policy and culture is categorized as (1) Reconstruction policies focused upon socio-cultural requirements: ERRA must be admired for adopting the policy of Owner Driven Reconstruction (ODR) with financial and technical assistance. This approach respected “self-reliance”, a known cultural characteristic of rural Kashmir. (2) Reconstruction policies changed socio-cultural characteristic: the policies of ERRA have influenced the “family structure” of Kashmir. Numerous extended families in pre-quake state have become nuclear families in post-quake situation. (3) Socio-cultural characteristic affected reconstruction policies: reconstruction of Kashmir is an interesting case where authorities were compelled by the community to include traditional construction practices into construction policies. As “Building” is one of the most important cultural expressions of any society, ERRA strengthened this aspect by certifying Dhajji-dewari and Leepa as earthquake resistant indigenous construction techniques. (4) Socio-cultural characteristics and policies went side by side, without affecting each other: this phenomenon is predominant in Tower Roof construction. Tower roof is the attic space in single storey houses and was rarely practiced before earthquake. Kashmiris have the culture of “living in large spaces”. As ERRA did not provide guidelines for double-storey houses earlier, people adopted tower roof to overcome space deficiency. ERRA could not make any objection on this novelty. The paper concludes that cultural stability after any disaster depends upon the policies to great extent. The paper also stresses upon investigative studies to reduce vulnerability and enhance capacity of any society.