Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Marine Affairs


Marine Affairs

First Advisor

Richard Pollnac


The purpose of this dissertation is to evaluate changes in social resilience to coastal disasters in the coastal community of Suk Sumran in Thailand during recovery from the Indian Ocean tsunami. Specifically, the objective of this research is to determine if there was an increase in indicators of social resilience during the two years of recovery following the disaster. The assessment included an examination of the design of a sub-set of projects implemented during the recovery effort, description of the socio-economic changes related to social resilience over the course of recovery 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 a baseline and final assessment. The baseline was conducted from June - August 2005 and the final assessment was conducted from February - April 2007. In addition, secondary data including recovery project technical reports were also reviewed in order to assess the projects of the Post-Tsunami Sustainable Coastal Livelihoods (SCL) Program for their impacts upon social resilience to hazards in Suk Sumran during recovery. These data were analyzed using the Sustainable Livelihoods Framework and substantiated with survey responses and observations. The quantitative data was analyzed statistically and supported with qualitative data.

Social resilience to hazards has been described as the capacity to cope with social, political or environmental changes that create a disturbance or stress upon a human-natural system, and maintain its health and continued ability to supply resources and services to society (Pomeroy et al. 2006, Adger et al. 2005, Adger 2000). The results of this research illustrate that considering social resilience to disasters during recovery efforts adds an additional dimension of analysis of linked human and natural systems beyond previous recovery efforts which strive to rebuild to the status quo.

The research illustrated that many of the projects designed by the SCL Program had a positive impact on social resilience to coastal hazards. However, some projects impacted Suk Sumran in a negative way, mostly due to lack of coordination between donors and duplication of efforts leading to unintended, negative consequences. The impact of recovery upon socio-economic factors showed that households increased livelihood diversity, an indicator of social resilience, in the early aftermath of the disaster. Results of the final assessment suggested livelihood diversity decreased at the household level over the longer-term, yet diversity increased at the community level. Examining perceptions over the course of recovery indicated that respondents were moderately satisfied with relief assistance over the recovery effort and that 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 also shown to be associated with more positive projections on factors associated with social resilience in the near future.

These findings illustrate that relief assistance from outside donors during recovery efforts can enhance social resilience to coastal disasters, yet the practical application of social resilience ideals in a recovery scenario have to be more closely considered in order to guide efforts both practically and conceptually. Suk Sumran is recovering well from the devastating impacts of the Indian Ocean tsunami, however, the effect upon social resilience to coastal disasters is mixed. However, residents and management of Suk Sumran should take this opportunity to continue to strive to increase social resilience to disasters during this time of rebuilding in order to decrease vulnerabilities to future coastal hazards.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.