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


Learning Package 4- Reinstating and supplying temporary services and shelter



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Learning Package 4- Reinstating and supplying temporary services and shelter

  1. Introduction to the learning package


This learning package intends to focus on the process of reinstating and supplying temporary services and shelter after a disaster including housing reconstruction during which actions and decisions to be realized can greatly influence implementations in the later stage and a process which is intended to minimise the physical and social destruction, and survivor’s psychological trauma.
      1. Aim of the learning package


To provide opportunity for students to critically examine existing theory and practice in reinstating temporary services and shelter after a disaster
      1. Key learning outcomes of the learning package

Knowledge and Understanding

On successful completion of this learning package, a student will be able to:

  • Critically assess and prioritise the need for temporary services and shelter, and outline strategies for restoration of major infrastructure and rehabilitation
Transferable/Key Skills and other attributes

On completion of the module a student will have had the opportunity to:

  • Develop critical thinking, creativity and innovation related to disaster mitigation and reconstruction of the built environment

  • Synthesise information from a number of sources in order to gain a coherent understanding of relevant theory and practice

  • Work within an appropriate ethos and can use and access a range of learning resources

  • Consider the role of the built environment in society

  • Apply judiciously problem solving and lateral thinking in a variety of disaster situations

  • Adopt a methodological approach to problem solving


      1. Lecture notes and hand outs

        1. Lecture 1- Immediate relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction


Many of the actions and measures taken in the immediate relief period are intended to minimise the physical and social destruction, and survivor’s psychological trauma. Furthermore, actions and decisions to be realized in this period can greatly influence implementations in the later stage. As for post-disaster reconstruction, the prior tasks of assessment of damage, existing resources and needs should be precise because housing reconstruction decisions are based on these early data. This period usually lasts for approximately two weeks after the disaster event. Actions related to post-disaster housing reconstruction in this period are all organisational.

The post-disaster shelter/housing reconstruction process consists of four different periods: pre-disaster period, immediate relief period, rehabilitation period and reconstruction period. The pre-disaster period is the phase when major policies are decided and database is formed. The immediate relief period is significant for the damage and needs assessments which should be realized directly after the disaster. The rehabilitation period is where all the critical decisions about the detailed implementation plan are made. The construction, implementation and evaluation period of the permanent post-disaster houses is termed the reconstruction period. Within the scope of this learning package, the major emphasis will be on housing and shelter during the immediate relief period.

Immediate relief includes the relocation of the population to safe areas, or evacuation, emergency medical assistance, basic needs such as drinking water, dry rations, cooking utensils and shelter, preventing the outbreak of epidemics, clearing and identification of the dead, and care of the wounded. Until the relocation to permanent houses is completed and livelihoods are restored, the families will be provided with basic needs such as food, shelter, clothing, water and medical facilities. Immediate measures need to be taken to restore normalcy by providing them with facilities including:


  • Livelihood support and compensation for victims

  • Housing

  • Restoration of electricity, water supply, transport, road access etc.

  • Restoration of education and health facilities

  • School textbooks and uniforms

  • Compensation for victims

  • Counselling and mental therapy programmes

  • Safe and healthy environment for women and children

  • Creation of opportunities for employment.

Several measures, including the following also need to be implemented at this stage:

  • Provision of monthly livelihood allowance

  • Concession on electricity, water and telephone bills

  • Micro and SME credit on confessional terms

  • Temporary housing

  • Grants for individual house construction

Potable water needs to be provided if evacuation is to be avoided. Collection from temporary supply arrangements will be replaced by mains pipes supply as soon as possible. Temporary arrangements may last many weeks (over 30 days) with risk of local water running out. The government and other volunteer groups may have to manage rapid evacuations for public health safety. Collection and disposal of bagged waste and other debris / rubbish also needs to commence. Management of hazardous substance waste also becomes a priority. Emergency shelters are set up; limited mass shelters are made available, e.g. neighbours’/ friends’ houses; billeting arrangements are set up within or outside the area. Co-ordination of critical resources by regional and national authorities is needed to support local activities. Central government agencies support local activities including setting up help lines. Government agencies and other support services draft in additional resources to cope with workloads.

Volunteers, either spontaneous or organised, start to arrive, requiring management and control. Management, co-ordination and distribution of donated funds and materials become important tasks. Rapid building safety surveys by engineers and builders are needed to ascertain the extent of damage, further hazard, habitability and security situations, and whether homes.

In an emergency situation, any government will have to rely on their own staff, any “borrowed” and planned or unplanned recruitment of builders. There is an obvious haphazard nature to this. A tagging system can be employed to denote structures safety surveyed and those assessed as unsafe or uninhabitable. If resources are available, unsafe structures are taped or fenced off. Urgent demolition and removal of debris may be required for safety, precautionary or health reasons. Structures are temporarily shored up or “roughly repaired” to enable continued habitation. Rough repairs to enable continued habitation raise issues of their own, including standards, rework, time limits, etc. Resource, decision-making, insurance and management, and control issues will arise.

More detailed inspections of lifelines, vital transport infrastructure and other critical facilities are initiated, and they are made safe, in accordance with plans and crisis management. School and child care centres are included. Structural engineers, building services and geotechnical engineers will be required. Insurance companies set up field offices close to the disaster area, bring in loss adjustors, and commence damage inspections (starting with general area inspections to assess access and local needs).

Temporary (as opposed to emergency) accommodation is sought on behalf of families whose homes will not be habitable for some time. Reliance is on housing units, vacant houses and caravans (including owner-occupied tents and caravans). In a large disaster these resources will be overwhelmed.

Health authorities take actions designed to prevent the outbreak or spread of disease. Information is disseminated about:



  • rubbish and sewage collection

  • water supply arrangements

  • restoration of other services

  • emergency funding

  • shopping and transport capacity

  • insurance claims and assessment timetable

  • how to obtain assistance from government agencies
Case study 1: Sri Lanka Tsunami Response: Immediate Impact and Response

[Source: “Post-Tsunami Recovery and Reconstruction Strategy”.]

The immediate impact of the tsunami was unprecedented. The death toll is estimated at over 36,000 (30,957 people listed as dead with an additional 5644 listed as missing) according to the latest figures available (DCS, 2005). The majority of victims were women and children. An estimated total of 800,000 people were displaced. In terms of the dead and missing numbers, Sri Lanka’s toll was second only to Indonesia (126,804, missing 93,458, displaced 474,619), and greater than India (10,749; missing: 5,640; injured: 6,913), and Thailand (over 5,000 dead and 3,000 missing).Tens of thousands of houses were damaged or destroyed (including large numbers of fishermen’s houses). Twenty-five beach hotels were severely damaged, and another 6 were completely washed away. More than 240 schools were destroyed or sustained serious damage. Several hospitals, telecommunication networks, coastal railway network, etc., were also damaged.

Image: Pothuvil, Sri Lanka – immediate relief operations

The geographic impact of the tsunami was uneven. Much of the coastal belt of the Northern, Eastern and Southern Provinces and some parts of the Western Province were severely damaged. The Northern and Eastern Provinces were particularly hard hit accounting for two-thirds of deaths and almost 60 per cent of the displacement. The severity of the tsunami disaster in the Northern and Eastern Provinces compounded problems arising from the two decades of conflict: the majority of the 360,000 internally displaced people live in these two provinces. The tsunami hit on a public holiday—a Sunday after the Christmas day, which also happened to be a Full Moon day (a day of religious observance for the majority Buddhist community). Most government offices were shut or had only a skeleton staff. The initial and immediate response came from community groups. This was soon followed by government initiatives organized by the Prime Minister—whose own constituency, Hambantota, suffered significant damage. The President, who was in London on holidays, soon returned to Sri Lanka and assumed overall leadership of the government’s tsunami response. Subsequently, other Ministers in charge of key sectors hit by the tsunami (fisheries, tourism) also returned from overseas visits and took charge of their respective ministerial responsibilities.

In the immediate aftermath of the tsunami, the Ministry of Public Security, Law and Order set up an operations centre, Centre for National Operations (CNO), to handle the response, and the Secretary to the Ministry was appointed as the Commissioner General of Essential Services to oversee coordination of government agencies involved in rescue and relief. Three Task Forces were set up—Task Force for Rescue and Relief (TAFRER), Task Force for Logistics, Law and Order (TAFLOL), and Task Force for Rebuilding the Nation (TAFREN) to address specific aspects of the relief effort. From the very early stages there were concerns about how assistance could be channelled to conflict affected areas. However, it appears that basic relief supplies did manage to get through to affected people during the early phases of the relief effort.

Immediate Relief Effort: A Success

While there were hiccups and some amount of confusion in organizing relief, for a country that had not previously experienced such a disaster, Sri Lankan institutions responded reasonably well. Essential medical aid, emergency food and other relief supplies were mobilized within a day. Temporary shelter was provided to the displaced in schools, other public and religious buildings, and tents. Communities and groups cooperated across barriers that had divided them for decades. Public and private sector organizations cooperated and organized relief efforts at many levels. Sri Lanka’s past investments in public health paid off in this emergency: the broad-based public health system and community awareness of basic sanitary and hygienic practices ensured that there were no disease outbreaks.

Once the immediate relief and rehabilitation measures for provision of food, shelter, clothing, clean water, and sanitary and medical facilities to affected families had been provided, it was necessary to address community needs to cope with the trauma and start rebuilding their lives. A high priority was to restore at least basic education facilities to affected children. By mid-year 85 per cent of the children in tsunami-affected areas were back in school. Relief efforts included provision of finances to meets immediate needs. Compensation of Rs.15,000 (US$150) was offered for victims towards funeral expenses; livelihood support schemes included payment of Rs.375 (US$3.75) in cash and rations for each member of a family unit per week, a payment of Rs.2,500 (US$25) towards kitchen utensils. These initial measures were largely successful, though there were some problems with lack of coordination. In the circumstances, the following assessment of the initial response to the tsunami, presented to the donor meetings held in Sri Lanka in May 2005, seems an accurate description of the situation: “In the months following the disaster, much has been accomplished. The general consensus is that emergency relief was singularly successful in meeting the immediate needs of the affected people. The unprecedented outpouring of private and institutional generosity meant that families were provided with a place to stay, food was distributed, medical assistance was made available, orphaned children were taken into care. Basic public services such as education, electricity and security were soon restored to close to pre-tsunami levels. As a result, the epidemics and deaths that many feared following the disaster never happened. This rapid stabilization of a traumatized population has allowed attention to thus quickly be turned towards the, in many ways, more difficult and complex challenge of assisting the affected areas to return to normalcy and the affected families to begin to rebuild their lives.”



Image: Kirinda Temporary Shelter, Sri Lanka

However, tackling the next phase of reconstruction and recovery is likely to be both more complex and difficult and some of the challenges identified as part of this process include initiatives associated with water supply and sanitation:

The major objective of the sector strategy is to provide sufficient and sustainable water supply and sanitation services to the affected areas. The following three actions will be implemented.


Immediate needs fulfilment

The objective is to provide adequate water supply and sanitation facilities to meet immediate needs of affected populations. The strategy includes temporary supply of safe water to transit camps, repair of damaged infrastructure and undertaking an assessment on situation of the existing water supply and sanitation situation.
Immediate service restoration

This is to restore the service to similar with the level of prior to the tsunami. This will be achieved to through extensions and increasing the capacity of the existing schemes. Sanitation facilities in the resettle areas will be improved through new installations. However the progress of the achievements will depend on availability on firm resettlement plans.
Immediate service expansion

This is to achieve the long-term ambition of meeting the needs of the Tsunami victims with the medium term planning horizon up to 10 years. The components of the strategy includes improvement of the water resources and expansion of the schemes to meet the service requirements of the population in the restored / resettled areas and construction of new schemes in the areas where there are potentials. The need assessments reveal that the areas to which supply of water be provided should include transit camps, new settlements and newly developed commercial areas. The possible sources of water supply range from pipe bone schemes to protected dug wells depending of the demand and technical viability.


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