People are affected by disasters in different ways. Humanitarian shelter organisations try to respond with a range of options to achieve the best match with what people need to survive and what they might want to do next.
In the rush to help, however, it is difficult to be quick, cover a large population and provide different types of support. This is all happening in the face of dramatic evidence that the ways people went about building before the disaster made their homes extremely vulnerable. This often means that there is less enthusiasm for the types of support that enable people to lead their own recovery by fixing up their own temporary shelter, repairing their dwelling or even rebuilding as quickly as they would like.
Humanitarian organisations able to find ways to support these activities have an opportunity to expand the range and scale of shelter available after disasters. Alternative support that can be scaled up quickly, based on sharing technical information more effectively, includes mass communication to households, technical advice and training for builders and modest financial support to help people get started.
The challenge is how to combine humanitarian resources with technical evidence so that alternative shelter support, led by affected families, can be developed rapidly after a disaster.
There are regular calls for humanitarian, academic and private sector organisations to join forces to improve the humanitarian shelter response. This project takes the next step by bringing these people together in “peace time” to look at exactly how this could happen in an emergency.
Added Value: Technical evidence at the right time, addressed to the right audience in a digestible form is valuable but difficult to find. This project pushes engineers, scientists and humanitarians, who don’t necessarily know what they don’t know and traditionally find themselves working separately after a disaster, to work out realistic ways to combine their work to make it more than the sum of its parts. The value does not come from injecting technical solutions but from working together to tailor support to the priorities of disaster affected people and communicate useful information.
With so much data but so few opportunities to consolidate and call on this evidence in the critical decision-making process, there is a risk that the work loses traction and value.View
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