Different approaches are being adopted in different areas, with varying materials, sizes, and processes.
A ten-point guideline on temporary shelter provision prepared in the aftermath of the Kashmir Earthquake of 2005 by Prof. Ian Davis is as follows:
1) Monitor what is going on: Use this disaster to inform the coordination agencies about what goes on in this sector, at micro and macro levels, such as, who is deciding on shelter approaches; where is the expertise; what the popular wisdom on shelter is; what are the dilemmas and conflicts? etc.
2) Tents: The likelihood is that a wide variety of tents, with varied specifications, will arrive, some very appropriate, while others are hopelessly unsuited for the climate or cultural conditions.
Who adopts what specifications and, is there any quality control or standardized specification? If families tear their allocated tent to use the canvas in creative ways this can be highly effective, yet in some contexts, some ‘tidy-minded’ officials have been known to ban this adaptive process.
3) Standards: Minimum standards of shelter provision are given under the Sphere Project, and are accepted around the world.
These should be adhered to and adapted where there is a need for modifications. The basic principles of the standards should be ensured in all temporary shelter programs.
4) Location of Tents: Where possible, families should be allowed to take a tent and put it near their house rather than on a centralized campsite.
Reasons for this are obvious; it would provide for better care of domestic animals in rural settings, protection of household belongings that may remain within their ruined dwellings, and maintenance or recovery of livelihoods that may be linked to the home.
5) Shelter Materials: Probably, one of the best policies is to distribute shelter materials, such as blankets, roofing, sheeting, plastic sheeting, lengths of planed timber, building tools, wire, rope, nails, etc.
Where possible, these can be sold where people have money to avoid dependency, but where people do not have resources, they can be donated. If the materials for roofing, sheeting, etc., can come with expertise and the support of skilled volunteers to assist in building, this will enhance the process.
6) Shelter for Families with Damaged Dwellings: Aftershocks can bring down damaged, but standing houses. Therefore, such families need to be advised to sleep outside their homes in tents or improvised shelters even if they spend time during the day in their homes.
The risks are very high when they are lying flat, sleeping and a damaged structure collapses. Rapid damage surveys need to check on this issue as a vital measure to avoid further losses of lives from aftershocks.
7) Local Advice: Centres Repairs begin immediately, regardless of whether or not the government seeks to stop the process until structural safety surveys have been undertaken.
Small teams can be assembled, comprising volunteer engineers/ architects/ builders who can be assigned different areas to offer advice concerning shelters and repair and rebuilding options.
8) Transition Housing: An effective strategy is to seek to help families to create a transitional dwelling that will eventually develop into a permanent dwelling.
This is a preferable approach to providing expensive rehabs that will later be replaced by another permanent home (In effect this is a wasteful double reconstruction approach). The aim is to use the sheltering process to accomplish three things: provide shelter, strengthen local livelihoods and aid the psychosocial recovery process.
9) Debris: In many disaster situations there is often large-scale destruction of building debris during the clearing and recovery process.
Vital timber and masonry debris are destroyed in the process. It is essential to collect useful building debris for recycling purposes.
10) Shelter Units: Each disaster will attract a community of intrepid inventors or commercial opportunists who seek to convince officials to place big orders for their novel creations made of cardboard, plastic, polyurethane, etc.
Such designs are essentially innovative answers seeking a problem. They often cost far more than tents and shelter materials; they can be culturally and climatically inappropriate and can take ages to deliver. There are better alternatives available as noted above.
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