Lessons paper

Responding to earthquakes

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In fragile or developing states, large-scale earthquakes can turn back the development clock by years or even decades. It is not possible to eradicate earthquakes, but as most of the areas prone to earthquakes are known, it is possible to prepare and learn from past experiences in order to strengthen the humanitarian response and to ‘build back better’.

This Lessons paper reviews relevant grey and published literature to draw lessons from previous humanitarian responses following any type of earthquake, provided it occurred on dry land. The lessons originate from past humanitarian responses across sectors. In light of the literature review conducted for this paper, it appears that post-earthquake humanitarian responses mainly span the following sectors: debris management, shelter, health, livelihoods and economic recovery, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), education, food security, nutrition and protection.


  • Publication language: English
  • Pages: 38pp
  • Suggested citation: Juillard, H. and Jourdain, J. (2019) ALNAP Lessons paper: Responding to earthquakes. London: ALNAP