Building resilience to coastal disasters: An assessment of social resilience during recovery after the Indian Ocean tsunami in Thailand

Dawn M Kotowicz, University of Rhode Island


The purpose of this dissertation is to evaluate changes in social resilience to coastal disasters in a coastal community in Thailand during recovery from the Indian Ocean tsunami. The objective of this research is to determine changes social resilience during the two years following the disaster. The analysis includes an examination of projects implemented, description of the socio-economic changes and an exploration of the perceptions, related to social resilience to coastal hazards. Ethnographic methods including participant identification, semi-structured interviews and household surveys were used to collected qualitative and quantitative data during socioeconomic assessments in 2005 and 2007. These data were analyzed using the Sustainable Livelihoods Framework and statistical analysis, and substantiated with survey responses and observations. Social resilience to hazards is the capacity to cope with social, political or environmental changes that create a disturbance upon a human-natural system, and maintain its continued ability to supply resources and services to society (Adger 2000). The research illustrated that many of the projects designed by the SCL Program positively impacted social resilience to coastal hazards. However, some projects impacted Suk Sumran negatively due to lack of coordination between donors and duplication of efforts, leading to unintended consequences. Results suggested that livelihood diversity decreased at the household level, yet diversity increased at the community level. Perceptions indicated that respondents were moderately satisfied with relief assistance, preparedness is perceived to be relatively high while compliance with coastal resource regulations is perceived to be relatively low. Positive perceptions of the recovery efforts were shown to be associated with more positive projections on factors associated with social resilience in the future. These findings illustrate that relief assistance from outside donors during recovery efforts can enhance social resilience to coastal disasters, yet practical application of social resilience ideals in a recovery scenario have to be more closely considered to guide recovery efforts. This community is recovering well from the impacts of the tsunami, however, the effect upon social resilience is mixed. Residents and management of Suk Sumran should continue to strive to increase social resilience during rebuilding and decrease vulnerabilities to future coastal hazards.

Subject Area

Cultural anthropology|School counseling|Public policy

Recommended Citation

Dawn M Kotowicz, "Building resilience to coastal disasters: An assessment of social resilience during recovery after the Indian Ocean tsunami in Thailand" (2010). Dissertations and Master's Theses (Campus Access). Paper AAI3415495.