Land disputes will rise: Land-ownership emerges as a critical issue in all earthquake disasters. First, there are property disputes even before the disaster. Will opportunists seize land in the chaos? Will squatters be able to return and rebuild their shacks (even if that is a good idea)? The loss of documentation, the destruction of landmarks, the deaths of property owners, and the need to formalise previously informal arrangements all add a new layer of complexity to existing land-ownership issues.
But there are positive opportunities too. Some disaster interventions have been effective in changing the pattern of formal house ownership, with new houses registered in the names of both husband and wife. A follow up on the 2001 El Salvador earthquake response, in which the World Bank implemented a joint-ownership policy for new houses, found some communities where 50% of respondents reported that a woman was one of the legal home-owners and that, overall, 37% of the homes were wholly owned by women.
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