India National Conference on Shelter in Emergencies: Challenges & Opportunities

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On February 25th, 2016, The National Conference on “Shelter in Emergencies” was organised by CARE INDIA with support from Christian Aid and Sphere India. The conference, held in New Delhi, facilitated the process of exchange of experiences and lessons learned, as well as discussion of challenges encountered in implementing shelter projects in Indian context among a wide range of stakeholders. The conference was organised to disseminate the findings of the shelter study recently concluded by CARE INDIA, and provided a forum to share experiences from the past on shelter in post-humanitarian crisis. The key objective of the conference was to develop a consensus around strategy for shelters in future emergencies in India and the region.

Mr. Rajeev Sadanandan, Joint Secretary, Rural Housing, Ministry of Rural Development was the Chief Guest for the event. The other eminent dignitaries who attended the conference were Dr.Ashok Khosla, Chairman, Development Alternatives, Mr. Vinod Sharma, Honourable Vice Chairman, Sikkim Disaster Management Authority and Eminent
professor at Indian Institute of Public Administration and Mr. Ajit Chaudhari, General Manager, Tata Sons. The conference was also participated by well-known shelter experts across the states as well as various international and national NGOs, International donors and UN agencies.

Workshop proceedings were conducted through a series of technical sessions, focusing on the various aspects of shelter construction like sharing of national experiences; capacity-building initiatives; best practices; emerging challenges and future directions for shelter response in India. Each of the technical sessions comprised of thematic presentations by programme stakeholders and experts followed by open discussions. Going beyond experiences related to the shelter projects, this knowledge sharing initiative also focused on key technical aspects of shelter reconstruction such as disaster risk assessment, disaster-resistant construction, retrofitting, regulatory mechanisms such as building codes and by-laws, use of sustainable construction materials, capacity
building of construction fraternity and role of community participation.

Some of the key take points which emerged from the deliberations during the conference were as follows:

  • The shelter is not merely a single entity. Habitation and Habitat should go hand in hand. It is important to understand whom we are building for and balance between structural, environmental and social principles.There should be a much broader discussion with more focus on various sectoral interventions (water, sanitation,
    hygiene, health, environment, energy and livelihood) to ensure sustainability of shelter interventions and programmes.
  • Community participation and addressing the differential needs of women is an important priority in shelter programming. It is also a must to bring in the community in the purview of the shelter construction process to give them complete ownership and accountability of their shelters.
  • Coordination is the key to successful implementation of any shelter programme and it is necessary to deliberate on ways to effectively coordinate with stakeholders.
  • Post-disaster shelter reconstruction should incorporate disaster-resistant features. The focus should be on expanding the existing knowledge base and use of time-tested methods on one hand as well as continuous modernisation of the working methods and adoption of new and innovative technologies and construction
  • Since housing reconstruction is an important component in any disaster recovery programme disaster, institutions involved in disaster management and shelter construction at the national level should take a leading role to access global knowledge and learnings.
  • Effective governance has a critical role to ensure proper implementation of shelter programmes. It is important that the government define a clear strategy underlining the role of each stakeholder.
  • The role of NGOs needs to be more focused on ensuring equitable delivery to the most vulnerable and less about the delivery of infrastructure and housing at a large scale.
  • There is a need to promote increased use of cash vouchers in shelter projects as it is faster and more flexible in meeting the needs of the affected population. This has other benefits too such as increased accountability,contributing to the local economy, and community livelihoods.

The full conference proceedings can be downloaded here: Report-National Conference on Shelter in Emergencies.

18th UK Shelter Forum

UK Shelter Forum 18 took place on Friday the 13th of May 2016 and was hosted by CARE and the Institution of Structural Engineers.

UKSF18 Panel

UKSF18 Panel. From left to right: Wendy Fenton, ODI HPG; Dominic Courage, Save the Children; Fergus McBean, humanitarian preparedness advisor; Prof. Jonathan Wolff, UCL.

The theme of this forum was ‘Risk and Responsibility’:

Humanitarian shelter projects and practitioners often place significant emphasis on stronger, ‘better’ buildings, aiming to reduce the risk of those building collapsing in future events. Associated with this is a range of standards and expectations, and often serious concerns about liability for unsafe buildings. 

This forum aims to explore the risks faced by vulnerable populations and how those risks affect their choices and priorities – and what ‘better’ means to them. It will ask where responsibility for minimising these risks lies and to question whether all these risks, choices & priorities are adequately reflected in humanitarian shelter programmes and the shelters or buildings that result. 

The agenda for the event was:

UKSF18 Agenda 1

UKSF18 Agenda 2

UKSF18 Agenda

Presentations from UK Shelter Forum 18 are below. Notes on the discussions will be added here in due course.

Updates & announcements

Talks session 1

Talks session 2

Talks on construction:

Talks on research:

Talks session 3

Changing the Paradigm: Resilient Recovery Frameworks Consultations

25 November 2014, UCL, London

Natural disasters have caused damages of nearly £3 trillion over the past 30 years and the frequency and intensity of these powerful storms, droughts and earthquakes continue to rise.

The Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) in the World Bank, in partnership with University College London and Habitat for Humanity and in association with the UK Shelter Forum organised a public presentation and discussion on how vulnerable countries can better prepare before disaster strikes and better plan and execute post disaster recovery and reconstruction programmes to contribute to sustainable development and resilience.

The event was open to humanitarian and development stakeholders involved in disaster preparedness, risk reduction, emergency response, reconstruction and development, research or practice.

This event in London followed the second World Reconstruction Conference (WRC 2) held in the World Bank Headquarters in Washington DC in September 2014 which featured the launch of joint EU-UN-World Bank GFDRR Post Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) Guide and Disaster Recovery Framework (DRF) Guide, as well as ten country case studies.

The presentation and discussion included:

  • The World Bank’s ongoing efforts to build consensus and collective action on resilient recovery, to ensure efficient and effective post disaster reconstruction and to increase readiness including stronger government recovery systems.
  • The role of civil society working with communities in the implementation of humanitarian, reconstruction and development programmes.
  • The importance of research, knowledge and capacity development to support resilient recovery.

The session offered a unique opportunity for dialogue between policy makers and practitioners as part of a process of consultation towards greater collaboration and more effective action.

For further information on WRC 2 and the DRF Guide, see:

About the World Bank GFDRR : Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery
The Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) helps high risk, low income developing countries better understand and reduce their vulnerabilities to natural hazards, and adapt to climate change. Working with over 300 partners-mostly local government agencies, civil society and technical organizations- GFDRR provides grant financing, on the ground technical assistance to mainstream disaster mitigation policies into country level strategies and a range of training and knowledge sharing activities. GFDRR is managed by the World Bank and funded by 21 donor partners.

15th UK Shelter Forum

The 15th UK Shelter Forum was hosted by CARE and Arup on Monday 24th November 2014. You can download the agenda here and the briefing note for day 1 here. The briefing from day 2 will be posted shortly.

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Topics covered in this forum include

  • Updates from shelter actors around the world,
  • Philippines Haiyan response one year on,
  • South Asia Floods
  • Forgotten African crises
  • Accelerating housing recovery
  • Future research needs: ‘what don’t we know..’.
The Forum closed with the launch of the new book ‘Still Standing? Looking back at reconstruction and disaster risk reduction in housing’ from the Building and Social Housing Foundation (BSHF), followed by drinks kindly provided by BSHF.

An additional session for presentations and discussion on the Syria and Gaza crises was organised on Tuesday the 25th.