With the recent earthquake in Turkey and Syria in mind, this rapid review synthesises evidence, guidance, and lessons on disaster relief and reconstruction in fragile and conflict-affected situations (FCAS). Precarious governance conditions in Syria – including control being split among different governing authorities, the politicisation of aid, the role of proscribed actors as governing authorities, weak state capacity, corruption, lack of resources due to protracted crisis, and the absence of a UN cluster system – will make relief and reconstruction more difficult. This review therefore includes evidence from contexts where some or all of these conditions exist.

The review focuses on:

  • timelines and priorities for earthquake and disaster response, and how they can be adapted in FCAS
  • lessons on how disaster relief interventions in FCAS have worked, or should or might work, when collaborating with different actors.

Disaster response should be seen as part of a long-term programme of reconstruction, with immediate decisions on relief and recovery having implications for subsequent redevelopment. It requires strong national coordination between different sectors, levels of government, international actors, and communities, and balancing of long- and short-term goals. The review finds that disaster response and reconstruction activities may need to adopt different methods in FCAS:

  • The degree to which reconstruction and disaster risk reduction (DRR) can be undertaken in FCAS may be limited.
  • In FCAS, it is necessary to adopt conflict-sensitive approaches that assess and adapt to risks. These approaches should be applied across programming sectors.
  • Community-driven reconstruction (CDR) efforts can be used to implement projects, and factors for success vary by context. There is limited evidence on their ability to build capacity and links with local government.
  • Working with different configurations of actors at subnational and international levels, including traditional authorities and civil society organisations (CSOs), may be necessary in FCAS.
  • Careful diplomacy is needed when negotiating a disaster response in order to gain access to a state or work across conflict lines.