Shelter & Non Food Items

Shelter & Non-Food Items

The importance of shelter, settlement and non-food items in disasters

Shelter is a critical determinant for survival in the initial stages of a disaster. Beyond survival, shelter is necessary to provide security, personal safety and protection from the climate and to promote resistance to ill health and disease. It is also important for human dignity, to sustain family and community life and to enable affected populations to recover from the impact of disaster. Thermal comfort, protection from the effects of the climate and personal safety and dignity are achieved by meeting a combination of needs at the level of the individuals themselves, the covered space they inhabit and the location in which their covered area is situated. Similarly, meeting these needs requires an appropriate combination of the means to prepare, cook and eat food; clothing and bedding; an adequate covered area or shelter; a means of space heating and ventilation as required; and access to essential services.

Shelter is a critical determinant for survival in the initial stages of a disaster. Beyond survival, shelter is necessary to provide security, personal safety and protection from the climate and to promote resistance to ill health and disease. It is also important for human dignity, to sustain family and community life and to enable affected populations to recover from the impact of disaster. Shelter and associated settlement and non-food item responses should support existing coping strategies and promote self-sufficiency and self-management by those affected by the disaster. Local skills and resources should be maximised where this does not result in adverse effects on the affected population or local economy. Any response should take into account known disaster risks and minimise the long-term adverse impact on the natural environment, while maximising opportunities for the affected population to maintain or establish livelihood support activities.

Thermal comfort, protection from the effects of the climate and personal safety and dignity are achieved by meeting a combination of needs at the level of the individuals themselves, the covered space they inhabit and the location in which their covered area is situated. Similarly, meeting these needs requires an appropriate combination of the means to prepare, cook and eat food; clothing and bedding; an adequate covered area or shelter; a means of space heating and ventilation as required; and access to essential services.

The shelter, settlement and non-food item needs of populations affected by a disaster are determined by the type and scale of the disaster and the extent to which the population is displaced. The response will also be informed by the ability and desire of displaced populations to return to the site of their original dwelling and to start the recovery process: where they are unable or unwilling to return, they will require temporary or transitional shelter and settlement solutions (see the diagram below). The local context of the disaster will inform the response, including whether the affected area is rural or urban; the local climatic and environmental conditions; the political and security situation; and the ability of the affected population to contribute to meeting their shelter needs. In extreme weather conditions, where shelter may be critical to survival or, as a result of displacement, the affected population may be unable to construct appropriate shelter, rapidly deployable shelter solutions, such as tents or similar, will be required or temporary accommodation provided in existing public buildings. Displaced populations may arrange shelter with host families, settle as individual households or in groups of households within existing settlements or may need to be temporarily accommodated in planned and managed camps or collective centres.

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