Background and Objectives: In most post-disaster programs, the policy of relocating all or part of the settlement is considered as an appropriate solution due to the risk reduction or facilitating and accelerating reconstruction. However, various experiences suggest that the displacement of habitats has usually added to, rather than solving problems. The purpose of the present paper is to investigate the challenges of displacement of settlements according to the case study of Ardabil villages’ reconstruction after the 1996 earthquake, study its various consequences and the effectiveness of risk reduction measures through residential relocation and resistant housing reconstruction, and provide solutions to increase the success of such policies.
Method: The present study is descriptive-survey in terms of the nature that was conducted using a mixed quantitative and qualitative research method during one year through conducting extensive desk research, reviewing literature and documents, as well as visiting the region at several times. Data was collected through questionnaire, and free and in-depth interview, interview with the villagers, free observation and taking photos and sketches from villages; a survey of housing units and extensions were done through survey and field study. The spatial domain of the research was consisted of 10 villages relocated in the area of severe destruction, around the city of Sarein, Jurab and Golestan villages in the center of the earthquake, and three partially relocated villages were considered as the control group.
Findings: The urgency in reconstructing the earthquake affected villages to deal with the cold climate of the area caused the location of new villages to be selected without conducting comprehensive climate, economic, social and environmental studies. As time goes on, there are several challenges that local people sometimes think of using their capacities. But in general, the relocation of the habitats did not reduce the vulnerability, so that it continues to be built in the old part of villages at risk.
Conclusion: The most important strategies for success in the post-disaster reconstruction process and in particular, relocation of the settlements which could be outlined are: "conducting pre-disaster recovery planning for the country's most vulnerable areas, carrying out comprehensive economic, social, cultural, environmental and physical studies in the areas at risk, utilizing specialists from different areas of disaster studies in the reconstruction process, utilizing the participation of the disaster affected community in the process of reconstruction of the settlement including site selection and neighborhoods, solving the problem of land ownership, using indigenous knowledge, and providing different housing options according to the regional architectural patterns and family size.