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Humanitarian Bamboo Technical Report: Increasing Durability of Bamboo in the Rohingya Camps in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh

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1 Introduction

This report is designed to provide specific technical advice for the Shelter/NFI Sector. It explores ways in which the quality and durability of bamboo can be improved in camps in the current response to the Rohingya displacement in Southern Bangladesh.

The report is based on a TOR developed in conjunction with the Shelter/NFI Sector and its partners, for HBC to provide advice on improving the use of bamboo in the response, based upon HBCs experience hosting the global Humanitarian Bamboo Project.

Findings contained within this report are the result of a two week field visit to Southern Bangladesh by Fabian Prideaux and Dave Hodgkin from Humanitarian Benchmark Consulting (HBC).

This document should be read in conjunction with the HBC Inception Report, which further outlines the aims of HBC’s mission including; Background, TOR, Method and Limitations, Field Activities, Field Observations and Recommendations, along with broader strategic ‘Recommendations on the Next Steps forward’ to improve the use of bamboo in the response.

1.1 Aims of this report

This report aims to clearly outline a multi-staged approach on how to improve the quality and durability of bamboo within the current Rohingya response. It is intended to be detailed and technical in nature, however, every attempt has been made to keep the report open, accessible and easy to read.

As requested by the Shelter / NFI Sector, this report contains a lengthy section on bamboo treatment, with specific advice to agencies considering setting up and running bamboo treatment facilities. It must be noted however that treatment is only one step in a multi-step process towards ensuring the durability of bamboo. Treating bamboo without also improving the quality of procurement, handling, design, construction etc, will provide minimal benefit. Conversely, correctly addressing all the other steps, could on it’s own, increase durability to the point where treatment is not required. However, this seems unachievable at the scale and speed required for this response, and as such should not be relied on. Increasing durability must therefore include a combination of actions, and a certain level of practical compromise, with no single perfect solution. A range of potential options must be explored, tailored to suit different agencies, their mandates and capacities.

1.2 Limitations and disclaimer

This report is intended to provide rapid accessible and practical guidance to agencies that need to act immediately. It is not, and does not intend to be, a scientifically rigorous, highly referenced document. References have been supplied when and where the authors feel they may assist agencies in further reading, rather than for any academic credibility. The authors are very open to any further input, comments or enquiries.

This report is based on over 12 years experience managing the Humanitarian Bamboo project by the team at Humanitarian Benchmark Consulting. Many technical recommendations contained within this report are the result of detailed forums and consultations that have been conducted by the Humanitarian Bamboo team, between Humanitarian Shelter specialists and Bamboo specialists across Asia (including in India, Nepal, Indonesia, Australia and Thailand).

A number of ‘indicative’ tables/information are provided. This is due to large gaps and unresolved conflicting views in the available research, despite the fact that bamboo is one of the world’s most common construction materials. Bamboo continues to be seen and referred to, by many, as a ‘poor persons building material’, and as such, is often misunderstood and maligned. This problem is further aggravated by a lack of research on the specifics of using bamboo in the humanitarian context, where a desire for precisely executed solutions must give way to the more amorphous role of building and enhancing community capacity to design, build and maintain houses with dignity and safety.

Finally, please note that there are a vast number or variables that affect the durability of bamboo. It is impossible to state exactly how durable or strong any one stick of bamboo is. The advice given is predominately generic information, and should be used in conjunction with good project management, documentation, monitoring, quality control and testing regimes to improve and perfect the work being undertaken.

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