Reformation of the Curricula on Built Environment in the Eastern Neighbouring Area

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Practice questions

  1. Answer the following questions which are based on some of the common erroneous assumptions, dilemmas, and basic guiding principles of post-disaster planning.

    1. Identify several common “dangerous assumptions” in recovery planning.

    2. Apply these assumptions to your own situation or community.

    3. Address dilemmas regarding post-disaster planning in light of the experiences of others that you’ve come across

    4. Try and develop a new program design or a model for testing existing emergency response programmes.

        1. Lecture 2- Post-disaster shelter and housing

Post-disaster housing reconstruction is a process that is the interaction of complex social, technological and economic factors and actions. Post-disaster housing is defined by the United Nations Disaster Relief Coordinator (UNDRO) as "housing policies and applications following a disaster for meeting the urgent, temporary and permanent sheltering needs of the survivors of the disaster" (UNDRO, 1982). The construction of post-disaster housing is a process diverse from the construction of housing in normal times, since the process consists of actions to be realized in times of major crisis in the aftermath of disasters (Quarantelli, 1997).

Housing is essential to well-being and development of most societies. It is a complex asset with links to livelihoods, health, education, security and social and family stability (Barakat, 2003). It is also a complete system embracing whole human activities determined by specific requirements and cultural patterns (Ibid, 2003). The World Bank reports (2002) that the most vulnerable assets for disaster are housing and developing countries have been affected more than industrialized ones. The reason of this vulnerable position is the unfortunate consequence of the process of rapid uncontrolled urbanisation in developing countries, which has resulted in the proliferation of vast slums and squatter settlements (Huque, 1983).

According to the conditions that occur in the post-disaster period, the major issue is usually defined as re-building the physical environment by emphasising housing in the recovery programs. For all ages the humanity tends to have a shelter to settle down and continue to improve their standards. Therefore, this basic attitude is generally seen at the afterwards of a catastrophic event; sheltering is a necessity to provide safety conditions, reduce the tensions and maintain community’s security with protection from climate conditions and sanitation problems. It is also important for human dignity and to sustain family and community life as far as possible in difficult circumstances (Shelter Project, 2004).

Table 1: Common terms associated with disasters

Emergency shelter: a place where a family stays during the height of the emergency. This can be a public facility or the home of a friend or family member. Since the stay is so short there is no provision of food or other services.

Temporary shelter: a place where a family resides immediately following the disaster for an expected short stay. This can be a tent, a self-built shelter, a public facility, the home of family or friends, or a second home. The length of stay dictates the need for food, possibly medical provision and other services.

Temporary housing: a place where a family resides temporarily and resumes their household responsibilities and daily activities. This can be a prefabricated temporary house, a winterised tent, a self-built shelter, a mobile home, an apartment, or the home of family member or friend.

Temporary accommodation: used to refer to all the different types of temporary lodging commonly utilised after a disaster. It is important to distinguish between temporary accommodation and temporary housing, since temporary housing usually refers only to very specific types of temporary accommodation i.e. dwellings clustered in settlements and built by organisations using industrialised components and standardised designs. But temporary accommodation can also take the form of tents; self-built shelters; mobile homes; homes of family or friends’ homes; or apartments. However, in all of these types of temporary accommodation the family will resume their household responsibilities and activities in a location that is intended to be temporary.

Permanent housing: the place where a family will reside permanently after the disaster. This refers to the family returning to their rebuilt home or moving into new permanent quarters in the community.
Temporary housing

“…Temporary housing is usually provided by wealthy governments, and it is extremely expensive in relation to its intended life-span. The provided units are expected to last for a period of several months to several years, prior to replacement with permanent housing…” (UNDRO, 1982). As Johnson discusses (2002), temporary housing refers to disaster-affected families’ lodging between the onset of the disaster and the period when they regain permanent housing. Temporary housing is usually preferred by national authorities when the disaster consequences result in a large housing shortage that permanent construction will take a long time to address. In addition, it is observed as a necessity because of recovering physiological destruction of the community (Ibid, 2002). It fills the gap between the immediate relief phase and the later reconstruction phase. This is an important phase in the disaster recovery process that is often overlooked by governments, NGOs and aid organisations.

At international platforms, constructing temporary houses in disaster affected regions has become a big debate. The main reason is observed as difficulties on controlling its time span and undesired circumstances caused by this exceeded life. With the light of all local and international discussions, it is still considered as the crucial joint part in housing recovery.

Each disaster situation is unique. As such, it will need a unique set of appropriate actions. The ‘best-fit’ solution for temporary accommodation must consider two specific elements: the potential of the particular community’s human and financial resources; and the possibility of the temporary accommodation strategy to assist in the mid to long-term recovery after the disaster (Johnson, 2007).

Finding the ‘best-fit’ solution for temporary accommodation means that emergency relief, rehabilitation and development response mechanisms need to be integrated and planned for in a holistic and coordinated manner. As well, ‘best-fit’ solutions provide the population with an enabling atmosphere, so they can adopt a recovery strategy that is appropriate to the organisation’s and the population’s needs (Chalinder, 1998).

Image: Temporary housing on its way to Louisiana, USA, to house families made homeless by Hurricane Katrina

To determine the ‘best-fit’ temporary accommodation solution for the particular disaster, both pre-disaster preparedness planning and immediate post-disaster assessment are necessary. Preparedness aims at ensuring that the necessary resources and information are in place prior to the disaster, or that they can be obtained promptly when needed. However, “even if preparedness is good, it does not follow that managing a disaster will also be good…good planning does not automatically translate into good managing” (Quarantelli, 1993). Since each disaster situation is unique, it follows that the preparedness plan must be adapted and modified after the disaster to ensure the ‘best-fit’ solution for the particular disaster situation. This takes reassessment and planning after the disaster, as well as in advance of it.

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