Browse by Theme: Shelter

After disasters many international agencies, including CARE, undertake a whole range of projects to help affected people recover, including the construction of houses. These may be described as all sorts of things, including temporary shelter, transitional shelter, durable shelter, semi-permanent shelter, core houses or permanent houses. Which description is used often seems almost arbitrary, decided by a mixture of assumptions about people’s recovery, donor mandates and priorities, government policy and the level of expertise available in agencies. The description rarely matches reality.

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CARE has been working in India for over 65 years, and over that time a large part of its work has been responding to and supporting recovery from disasters. Many of these humanitarian projects have involved emergency shelter and housing reconstruction. Indeed, since 2000, CARE has built over 8,000 houses for some of the most vulnerable people who have lost their homes in disasters. A number of other agencies have undertaken similar construction programmes over the years. So what has the long-term effect of these projects been? Is the approach right, and given both the scale of typical disasters in India and the increasing quality and reach of government response, is the approach still relevant and appropriate?

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This is written five months after cyclone Pam caused so much devastation in the small Pacific island nation of Vanuatu. There has been time enough to reach a consensus on the most appropriate strategic approach to shelter recovery; but not yet enough time to evaluate the impact and long-term legacy. Decisions have been made and programmes are under way; but as for their effectiveness, the jury is still out. 

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The Philippines has been classified by the World Bank as a ‘lower-middle income’ economy. On the surface of things, the Philippines’ economic gains in recent years, and its growing numbers of new middle-class citizens, represent an optimistic narrative. But as the country still struggles to come to terms with the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan, is this the real story on the ground?

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After natural disasters the phrase ‘Build Back Better’ is a constant refrain from politicians, donors, aid agencies and the media. This short, alliterative phrase has captured the imagination, and seems at first glance to be a simple, powerful and necessary principle. But is it the best message about what we do?

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The journey from Bhubaneswar, Orissa's state capital to Kendrapada district is long. As we drive modern India shouts from bill boards and hand painted adverts. The roads get ever smaller. Billboards and tarmac are left behind and soon we are bumping along dirt tracks. Below the raised roadway the flat landscape reaches away punctuated with villages and rivers.

Last October heavy rain fall caused flooding that hit this region twice in the span of 15 days. 2.5 million people were affected, with many families losing  their homes and crops.

"How do we predict this? The floods have never been so bad before, you never know." says Santilata Malik, a widow.

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