Humanitarian Exchange articles tagged:Shelter

Humanitarian crises frequently give rise to new kinds of settlements for internally displaced persons (IDPs). In the Balkans in the 1990s, humanitarian actors provided assistance in ‘collective centres’ – pre-existing buildings such as schools and churches – which subsequently received increased attention. I wrote an article in this magazine about the ‘tent villages’ set up following the earthquake in Pakistan in October 2005. The conflict in South Sudan since 15 December 2013 has arguably produced yet another type of IDP settlement to add to the humanitarian lexicon: ‘Protection of Civilians (PoC) sites’. These settlements have hosted more than 100,000 IDPs…
This article questions whether the humanitarian cluster system’s mechanisms for strategic thinking really allow plans to be adapted as situations change, with a particular focus on the Shelter Cluster during the Haiti earthquake response Using strategy documents, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)’s Financial Tracking Service and minutes of the Strategic Advisory Group (SAG) of the Haiti Shelter Cluster (the coordination structure for shelter agencies), we ask whether different decisions could have been made in early 2010. The article seeks to determine whether more questions could have been asked about the assumptions underpinning the response; learn from…
With over two million Syrians seeking safety in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq, highly political issues of citizenship, the role of the state and the status and entitlements of non-nationals are pressing questions for a large and rapidly growing number of people. The refugee crisis – one element of a larger displacement crisis affecting nearly 80% of the estimated 8.7m Syrians deemed to be in a situation of humanitarian need[1] – is massive and affects the entire region. It is unlikely that the war in Syria will end soon, and when it does it is implausible that refugees will immediately…
For decades, development and humanitarian architects have stressed the importance of an enabling approach to reconstruction that recognises the central role that affected people play in rebuilding their homes in the wake of disaster. Yet this rhetoric has seldom translated into action, and shelter responses are typified by the provision of inadequate, inappropriate and badly built shelters to a small proportion of the affected population. The success of a shelter response tends to be measured by the number of units provided, and there is pressure to help as many people as possible as quickly as possible. Agencies are prompted to…
Security of tenure has a direct influence on people’s vulnerability to disasters and their capacity to recover. Tenure type directly affects the likelihood of displacement and the chances of a rapid return. Tenure security does not necessarily mean having formally registered, legally recognised and inheritable ownership. It can also mean formal and informal, short- and long-term ways to secure shelter by individuals, households, communities and enterprises, including renting, ownership and leasing of land. Contemporary studies suggest a move away from trying to ‘solve’ land rights issues by documenting and enforcing top-down ownership models in favour of flexible, incremental approaches based…
The relationship between natural disasters, recovery and poverty reduction is becoming a key scientific, economic and political issue. It is now widely accepted that some ‘natural’ disasters actually arise from socio-economic and political structures and processes of development. In turn, disasters bring socioeconomic inequalities into stark relief, creating pressure for change. Yet reconstruction usually reproduces vulnerabilities. Thus, development processes contribute to the number and scale of disasters; disasters set back development, increasing vulnerability and undermining future recovery and development. This article explores the mechanisms by which post-disaster reconstruction following the earthquake in Haiti may succeed in achieving developmental objectives, in…
One in every six people on the planet currently experiences the kind of living conditions depicted in the recent film Slumdog Millionaire, set in the sprawling slums of Mumbai. Forecasts by UN Habitat and others suggest that slum communities like those shown in the film will double in size to two billion people by 2025, accounting for one in four of the world’s population, making slums the fastest-growing form of human settlement and a key facet of global urbanisation. With urban centres projected to double in size to four billion people by 2025, the equivalent of a city of nearly…
Post-disaster shelter programmes aim to meet urgent and immediate housing needs. Although evaluations have highlighted short-term benefits and have helped to improve programme design and shelter options, little attention has been paid to the longer-term socio-economic impact of these interventions. Following an initiative of the Netherlands Red Cross (NLRC) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), two long-term studies on post-disaster shelter programmes were conducted in collaboration with Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) in the Netherlands. The first considers the long-term socio-economic impact of a shelter programme implemented in 1999–2001 in Vietnam. The second covers…
In early November last year, television images showed the world thousands of people fleeing fighting between the government and rebels in eastern DRC. But these events were only a spike in what has been a long-running crisis. Every month, tens of thousands of people are forced to flee their homes due to fighting among and between armed militias and government forces, many for the third or fourth time. The journalists and visiting dignitaries who descended upon North Kivu late last year in response to the escalation in the violence focused their attention on large camps, especially those within easy striking…
A familiar dilemma faced the Timorese government in developing a strategy to promote the return and resettlement of internally displaced persons (IDPs): should it determine property ownership before promoting return, or should it promote return first, and deal with property issues later? In the end, it chose to promote return and resettlement through a ‘cash for return’ programme, a decision that was heavily criticised by humanitarian agencies – including the UN – who argued that promoting return without first resolving property ownership issues would provoke further tensions and cause re-displacement. Today, it is clear that the government’s IDP reintegration programme…
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