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Shelter Projects 2010

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In this third annual Shelter Projects publication, containing summaries of a range of programming experiences in post crisis situations, we learn several essential lessons that should become principles for wider discussion and adoption.

One of the issues that triggers some reflection is that in every single shelter response, there is a need and obli-gation to involve and strengthen local capacities to enable sustainable solutions and proper housing reconstruction for the affected population. Once again, we need to emphasise the importance of putting survivors of these crises at the centre of the sheltering process, supporting their role in re-building their own dwellings and the training and awareness raising of local builders in safe building design and construction.

Another key lesson, clearly reflected in the Haiti 2010 earthquake response, is that since settlements provide the context for any shelter intervention, the focus on the provision of shelter “products” alone is too limited. Instead, a larger settlement response is required - without immediate strategic planning covering many areas (land use, tenure, livelihoods, essential services, housing reconstruction, etc) shelter response plans will always be limited in impact and at risk of failure due to the lack of integration with these other critical issues.

Identifying and addressing shelter and settlement related vulnerabilities through the reconstruction process will also enhance the resilience of the disaster affected population at risk to future such events. Disaster risk reduction must pass from messaging to explicit actions.

The rapid meeting of post disaster shelter and settlement needs, whilst enabling the rapid transition to more durable solutions by the affected populations themselves, requires informed support and engagement. Given the typical disparity between the scale of need and the availability of resources, involving and strengthening local ca-pacities and supporting integral shelter and settlements responses that consider future risks is key.

This publication is an appeal to all those involved in responding to post disaster sheltering needs – affected governments, local, national and international response actors, and the affected populations themselves - to learn from and apply the practical lessons from the relevant, recent experiences. Initial response activities have a significant impact on the approaches to longer term reconstruction. Is therefore imperative that donors and imple-menting agencies work with Governments and affected communities to plan from first response to full recovery, maximise available resources and expertise, and utilise emerging better practices from the field.

On behalf of our institutions, and in appreciation of the many and varied contributions from shelter sector agencies, we are pleased to present this Shelter Projects 2010 publication. We encourage all to learn from this review of current practices in post disaster shelter and settlement.