Shelter Projects 2011-2012

The fourth edition of ‘Shelter Projects’, is launched at a time when shelter is more relevant than ever as an instrument of humanitarian response. The case studies in this edition reflect the on-going challenges posed by responses to complex emergencies such as Haiti and Pakistan as well as new challenges derived from unprecedented level of population displacement in Africa, Asia and in the Middle East. While the increase of shelter needs prompt larger mobilisation of resources, shelter programmes need to explore improved models of delivery as well as innovative, cost-effective solutions which incorporate best practice and position the persons of concern at the forefront of our interventions.

Where people live largely determines their ability to meet their basic needs. It is of paramount importance that shelter solutions look beyond the physical structure and consider the environment within which the shelter is placed. Nowadays, large displacement of population due to humanitarian crisis, mostly affects urban areas where people expect to find easier access to opportunities be it of social or economic nature. Nevertheless, this trend further exacerbates the existing urbanisation phenomenon by placing additional strain on already vulnerable areas.

It is therefore increasingly evident that new concepts for sheltering people have to incorporate a more holistic approach which includes the shelter and its surrounding context. Shelter is an integral part of settlement planning, which guides spatial allocation of functions maintaining equilibrium between population needs, availability and allocation of resources, economic dynamics, amelioration of living conditions, provision of services, communication transportation networks as well as recreational spaces.

The case studies contained in the fourth edition of Shelter Projects are a reminder once again that every crisis is unique. There is no ‘silver bullet’ for shelter response. The main objective should be to operate in accordance with recognized shelter best practice while enabling those displaced to return to their homes or equivalent living space in a timely manner encouraging community recovery and building resilience to possible future shocks. Participation and promoting ownership is the key to achieving successful projects.

As well as being an important reference point for shelter facilitators this publication also acts as a learning tool allowing the successes and challenges of completed shelter projects to be replicated and improved on. The case studies address common issues emerging in shelter response, outline different approaches to addressing shelter needs and assist in evaluating the impact on affected communities. The shelter projects case studies provide an excellent resource against which to gauge proposed shelter interventions and access possible outcomes. Let’s collectively try to avoid ‘re-inventing the wheel’.

This edition also contains a new section comprising relevant thematic topics of interest compiled by technical experts. The issues addressed are: a background to the indicator for covered living space ‘the 3.5m2 principle’, cash transfers as a tool in shelter response, sheltering of livestock and the importance of settlements.