Have you every though about what a basic shelter might look like if a disaster hit your hometown.
For many of us in the US the answer might be a hotel, a relatives home, or an apartment paid for by FEMA while your home was being rebuilt. Chances are your home would be rebuilt and it would probably be pretty much back to a livable condition in not more than a couple of years. Billions would be spent on clean up efforts, improving infrastructure and generally rebuilding everything.
But what if this were not the case. What if the disaster was larger then what FEMA or any government agency could manage?
What shelter would you be able to come up with on your own? Unfortunately this is the case for hundreds of millions of people across the globe that are affected by disaster. The world promises aid, and relief organizing pour in to the area bringing everything they can get their hands on to render assistance. Many wonderful and brave people enter the front lines to assist in all manners of sorts, including the delivery of shelter.
Oftentimes, however; in a short amount of time the shelter becomes a problem.
What started off as a good intention soon deteriorates into man camps and exacerbates daily living. Within 6 months after the Earthquake destroyed parts of Haitia, a team from IADDIC visited the country and we were amazed at how fragile the tents had become. Most of what we saw would not last through the first year.
More to the point we considered the costs of gathering and distributing the materials. And we concluded the effort and the cost was too high for solutions that are so short lived. Within 12 to 18 months after the earthquake a second wave of shelter needed to be deployed. A little sturdier this time in the design. Four to six 4” X 4” poles were set in the ground, a tin roof placed on top and a plastic tarp was wrapped around the whole thing. Again, the cost and the effort to do all this work is staggering. Organizations paid as much as $5,000 and more for these structures. And truth be told they haven’t held up more then 18 months later.
It is now 2015 and nearly thousands of people are still living in tents and without permanent shelter. It is time we change what is used for disaster response, move away from tents and provide more durable basic shelter that is affordable, assembles quickly , and lasts indefinitely.