Scroll across for research findings and considerations for supporting disaster recovery.

Below, you will find outlines of ‘what we know’ from evidence about the role of human capital in disaster recovery, including how it can affect wellbeing and interact with other recovery capitals. These statements summarise academic evidence, but they do not represent the entire evidence base. You can find original evidence sources in the reference list below.

You will also find prompts to consider when applying this knowledge to disaster recovery support efforts.

The recovery capitals are deeply interrelated – look out for the little icons which highlight points of relevance to the other capitals.

Labelled icons for natural, social, financial, cultural, political, built and human capital

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The pilot ReCap guide was released in July 2020 for piloting and is a work in progress. Your feedback is most welcome up until March 31st 2021.

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This resource has been developed through the Recovery Capitals (ReCap) project, which is an Australia-Aotearoa New Zealand collaboration. The ReCap project is being undertaken by the University of Melbourne and Massey University in New Zealand, with the support of the Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre. Australian Red Cross is the lead partner organisation. Illustrations by Oslo Davis. ReCap logo by Alana Pirrone and Oslo Davis.



  1. Stofferahn CW. Community capitals and disaster recovery: Northwood ND recovers from an EF 4 tornado. Community Development. 2012;43(5):581–98.
  2. Mooney M, Tarrant R, Paton D, Johal S, Johnston D. Getting through: Children’s effective coping and adaptation in the context of the Canterbury, New Zealand, earthquakes of 2010-2012. Australasian Journal of Disaster and Trauma Studies. 2017;21(1):19–30.
  3. van Kessel G, MacDougall C, Gibbs L. The Process of Rebuilding Human Resilience in the Face of the Experience of a Natural Disaster: A Multisystem Model. IJEMHHR. 2015;17(4):678–87.
  4. Settembrino MR. Hurricane Sandy’s impact on the predisaster homeless and homeless shelter services in New Jersey. Journal of emergency management (Weston, Mass). 2016;14(1):7–16.
  5. Ulubaşoğlu M. Natural disasters increase inequality. Recovery funding may make things worse. The Conversation. 2020 Feb 27;
  6. Ulubaşoğlu MA, Rahman MH, Önder YK, Chen Y, Rajabifard A. Floods, Bushfires and Sectoral Economic Output in Australia, 1978–2014. Economic Record. 2019 Mar 15;95(308):58–80.
  7. Parkinson D. Investigating the Increase in Domestic Violence Post Disaster: An Australian Case Study. Journal of Interpersonal Violence. 2019 Jun 1;34(11):2333–62.
  8. Blake D, Niland P, Johnston D. Health emergency management in Aotearoa New Zealand: Making sense of professional development. Journal of Emergency Management. 2019;17(5):359–69.
  9. Johal S, Mounsey Z, Tuohy R, Johnston D. Coping with Disaster: General Practitioners’ Perspectives on the Impact of the Canterbury Earthquakes. PLoS Currents. 2014;(APR):1–9.
  10. Johal S, Mounsey Z, Brannelly P, Johnston D. Nurse perspectives on the practical, emotional, and professional impacts of living and working in post-earthquake Canterbury, New Zealand. Prehospital and disaster medicine. 2016;31(1):10–6.
  11. Beaven S, Wilson T, Johnston L, Johnston D, Smith R. Research engagement after disasters: research coordination before, during, and after the 2011–2012 Canterbury earthquake sequence, New Zealand. Earthquake Spectra. 2016;32(2):713–35.
  12. Aldrich DP. Challenges to Coordination: Understanding Intergovernmental Friction During Disasters. International Journal of Disaster Risk Science. 2019 Sep;10(3):306–16.
  13. Nakasu T, Ono Y, Pothisiri W. Why did Rikuzentakata have a high death toll in the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami disaster? Finding the devastating disaster’s root causes. International journal of disaster risk reduction. 2018;27:21–36.
  14. Hansen A, Bi P, Saniotis A. Extreme heat and climate change: adaptation in culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities. 2013;
  15. Drabek TE. The human side of disaster. CRC Press; 2016.
  16. McClure J, Henrich L, Johnston D, Doyle EEH. Are two earthquakes better than one? How earthquakes in two different regions affect risk judgments and preparation in three locations. International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction. 2016 Jun 1;16:192–9.
  17. Marshall MI, Niehm LS, Sydnor SB, Schrank HL. Predicting small business demise after a natural disaster: an analysis of pre-existing conditions. Natural Hazards. 2015;79(1):331–54.
  18. Becker JS, Coomer MA, Blake D, Garden E, Rampton A, Newman-Hall G, et al. Impact of the 2016 Kaikōura Earthquake on Wellington CBD Apartment Residents: Results of a Survey. Lower Hutt (NZ): GNS Science. 2018;
  19. Morrow BH. Identifying and mapping community vulnerability. Disasters. 1999;23(1):1–18.
  20. Thomas DSK, Phillips BD, Lovekamp WE, Fothergill A. Social vulnerability to disasters. CRC Press; 2013.
  21. Blake D, Marlowe J, Johnston D. Get prepared: Discourse for the privileged? International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction. 2017 Oct 1;25:283–8.
  22. Williamson B, Markham F, Weir J. Aboriginal peoples and the response to the 2019–2020 bushfires, Working Paper No. 134/2020. Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research, Australian National University, Canberra; 2020.
  23. Himes-Cornell A, Ormond C, Hoelting K, Ban NC, Zachary Koehn J, Allison EH, et al. Factors Affecting Disaster Preparedness, Response, and Recovery Using the Community Capitals Framework. Coastal Management. 2018 Sep 3;46(5):335–58.
  24. Gallagher C, Block K, Gibbs L, Forbes D, Lusher D, Molyneaux R, et al. The effect of group involvement on post-disaster mental health: A longitudinal multilevel analysis. Social Science & Medicine. 2019;220:167–75.
  25. Ombler J, Washington S. Seismic Shifts: The Canterbury earthquakes and public sector innovation. Future-Proofing the State. 2014;277.
  26. Dibley G, Mitchell L, Ireton G, Gordon R. Government’s role in supporting community-led approaches to recovery. 2019.
  27. Comfort LK, Boin A, Demchak CC. Designing resilience: Preparing for extreme events. University of Pittsburgh Pre; 2010.
  28. Waugh Jr WL, Streib G. Collaboration and leadership for effective emergency management. Public administration review. 2006;66:131–40.
  29. Usdin L. Building resiliency and supporting distributive leadership post-disaster. International Journal of Leadership in Public Services. 2014;