Basic Infrastructure repairs and rehabilitation

Debris Management and Municipal Solid Wast Management

Clearing away crisis-generated debris and solid waste is a critical part of relief and recovery efforts, including also to allow humanitarian partners access to communities to deliver lifesaving support.

Support to debris management is important in particular to contribute to:

i) Access to critical (sometimes lifesaving) basic services and access to communities for (lifesaving) humanitarian aid;

ii) Prevention of vector borne diseases by removal of municipal solid waste;

iii) Contribute to livelihoods stabilization through emergency employment and enterprise recovery;

iv) Recovery or establishment of green enterprises and environmentally sustainable (self-) employment through re-use and recycling of debris/ solid waste, including debris derived products;

v) Support restoration of local state authority through improved basic service delivery; Strengthen government capacities to carry out debris waste management assessments.

These areas are essential in order to lay the foundation for a transition towards sustainable development pathways and resilience. Activities are aimed to kick start livelihoods and economic recovery (including solid waste related value chain development) and might be lifesaving during initial phases.


Debris management projects includes:

i) Effective assessment management- including assessments, consultations with communities, partnership with private sector etc;

ii) Safe removal and re-use of debris i.e. debris removal, re-use/recycling of debris for the rehabilitation of community infrastructure;

iii) Emergency jobs (i.e. debris removal), training in recycling and enterprise management, establishment of MSMEs and public-private partnerships;

iv) Institutional strengthening- coordination, support to development of policy frameworks, and information management. Debris management may be life-saving by reopening access of aid delivery to crisis affected communities. It is also a medium to long-term activity focused on development (skills building, planning, legal aspects, capacity building, etc.).


Community Infrastructure Rehabilitation

Human development is inextricably linked with the stability and performance of community infrastructure and community-based assets, both physical and institutional. In an immediate post-crisis scenario the devastation of physical infrastructure can quickly trigger severe economic and social consequences. For example, when the only access road or bridge to a community is swept away by flooding or destroyed by earthquake, the population may become isolated from essential services or supplies, including adequate food, water and sanitation, medical care, education, social and cultural support, and employment, threatening their very livelihoods. Without rapid support to restore such assets, in just a few weeks, the level of need can escalate. Evidence also shows that the worst-affected communities and households tend to be the ones that are already the most vulnerable and impoverished, as they have fewer means to cope with the impact of disasters. The repair of community infrastructure in post-disaster settings is thereby critical for the restoration of social and economic networks. Apart to that, the restoration of equal access to key community infrastructure by various community groups can play a critical role in preventing further conflict situations, delivering peace dividends and promoting social cohesion.


Support to the rehabilitation of community infrastructure is important in particular to:

  • Re-establish access to critical (sometimes lifesaving) basic services and access to communities for (lifesaving) humanitarian aid;
  • Provide rapid source of income in the direct aftermath of a crisis for affected communities;
  • Provide the bases for the economic revitalization of a community/region affected by a crisis;
  • Strengthen the social fabric and social cohesion between community members and groups
  • Improve resilience by “building back better” through the promotion of building techniques that are more resistant to natural disasters and hazards
  • Build the capacity of communities in management and engineering techniques, and contribute to the restoration of state authorities through improved delivery of basic social services.

Community infrastructure rehabilitation projects, if approached comprehensively, can support affected citizens to come together to rebuild their communities, strengthen partnerships with local authorities, reflect their own priorities in broader recovery and development planning and acquire new knowledge and skills that empowers them to expand their opportunities and choices


Example of Waste Management and rehabilitation and governance

In the Philippines, cluster partners worked in a coordinated manner to assist the government to reach out and support the participation of local communities in the clearance and management of rubble and debris following the storm. Debris clearing and recycling of debris activities resulted in renewed access and the restoration of schools, hospitals, health care units, municipal halls, day-care centres, roads, drainage canals, dump sites and other public places including churches and public markets. Whilst not a focus country, the example of the Occupied Palestinian Territories also warrants a mention, where cluster partners have been working on rubble removal and the explosive remnants of war to enable further response and recovery following the latest conflict in Gaza.

Visite Nigeria country page to find communication product on how the cluster on Early Recovery and Livelihood integrates Debris Management and Solid Waste Management in their programmes

Photo credit : Iraq



UNDP Signature Product Guidance Note Debris Management (Spanish)


UNDP Guidance Note on Municipal Solid Waste Management in Crisis and Post Crisis Settings 


UNDP Signature Product: Guidance Note on Community Infrastructure Rehabilitation (Spanish)


Crisis Response Package : Emergency Livelihoods Debris 2015


Brochure/ note for UNDP senior management Debris Management


Brochure/ note for UNDP senior management Municipal Solid Waste Management


Brochure/ note for UNDP senior management Rehabilitation of Community Infrastructure


UNDP Fast Facts : Mine Action 2014


Early Recovery and Environment


Debris quantification: Assessing for action - Urban Resilience : Assessments therefore are not an end in and of themselves, they are a support to guide action, to enable decision making, and to become an evidence base for decisions. For debris management, the considerations we’ve just described have a number of ramifications. We should start for example by understanding what our priorities are. Are we trying to clear as fast as possible, or do we have available time to create detailed strategies of the most financially or environmentally efficient way of operating?


Who cleans up after hurricanes, earthquakes and war? - BBC article


Other resources 

Post your question on Ealy Recovery & Basic infrastructure repairs and rehabilitation on our discussion forum !

Learn more on Basic Infrastructure repairs and rehabilitation : check Module 5 of our e-learning


Other Early Recovery Programming areas

  1. Capacity Building and investing in People
  2. Governance
  3. Livelihood
Photo UNDP Myanmar : Cash for work, Road rehabilitation, 2015.

Country Examples : 

Ecuador - Debris Removal and infrasturcture rehabilitation

Haiti - Le secteur Relèvement Rapide et Moyens de Subsistance a pour objectifs d'accroître la résilience des populations vulnérables en renforçant les capacités de préparation aux catastrophes, d'intervention et de protection de l'environnement aux niveaux national et local, et de créer des emplois d'urgence pour injecter rapidement de l'argent dans l'économie locale, restaurer les moyens de subsistance immédiats des ménages les plus vulnérables, et réhabiliter les infrastructures essentielles dans les communautés touchées.

Nepal - Debris Removal


Read more on countries here