Infrastructure dormancy: a (possibly) temporary period of latency between construction completion of an infrastructure asset and its ultimate utilization in its intended capacity.
Definition, me. A little informal but, I think, important.
In Tacloban City, significant delays in transferring families resulted in housing infrastructure dormancy at many relocation sites, where a handful of transferred families are living against a backdrop of hundreds of unoccupied homes. Throughout 2015-2017, one of the major drivers of infrastructure dormancy was a lack of water service to relocation sites. The houses were built, but there were too few trucks and not enough water to make the sites livable.
Water limits were not the only issue that stymied transfers or contributed to infrastructure dormancy, however. The national government struggled to keep its contractors on schedule, and disputes with several further stalled construction. Elsewhere, swelling confusion over who was to relocate where burst into a break of transfers until discrepancies could be sorted out.
Still, in other cases, houses lie dormant not because they were never moved into, but because the families decided to move out. Sprinkled among occupied homes, abandoned houses hamper site maturity into a flourishing, lively, community. Vegetation begins to overtake the houses, burrowing into crevasses and slowly but surely deteriorating the brand new construction.
Dormant infrastructure doesn’t mean ignored infrastructure, especially when it comes to houses with completed roofs. If neighbors can get in, they’ll often use empty houses for storage. If unoccupied houses are locked, the exteriors are still useful places to hang laundry.
I’m not so sure I’ll get to wrestle with infrastructure dormancy in my dissertation, but it’s not an observation I want to keep to myself. Of course, dormancy issues are not happening at every single site, or with every contractor, and it’s not because of a one-size-fits-all reason. As the images convey though, its pervasive enough that it may warrant a broader conversation. One about aligning construction timelines, site sizing, and setting standards for house quality upon transfer and move-in.
Deterioration of utilities, windows, and doors
Finished houses (both dormant and abandoned)