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We do not have enough land to meet the Sphere indicator of 3.5m2 per person. The sites we have for displaced families are small and scattered in an urban area. How can we find an adequate shelter solution?


This is a question that I've been asked in the field so I wanted to share it with everyone on KnowledgePoint

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Hi Lizzie, I have the perfect answer for you. I have invented a type of rapid build aid shelter home. It is on two levels, so essentially you double your space. It is 3 metres inside, yet has 3 metres below for storage. They can be made any size. So this means that you will be able to in living space terms be able to double the available land you have. It is what I call Bubblehome. I have one of the UK's housing professionals and university lecturers supporting the project. We are making a film about it, and the UK prototype is in Guildford, near to where you are based. It is probably easier to speak directly about this. What we have innovated is very fast, flood and hurricane safe homes. They are low cost and can be constructed with few skills and constructed mostly with rubble. They ...(more)

Peter J Hughes gravatar imagePeter J Hughes ( 2017-10-28 09:42:17 +0000 )edit

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Thank you for your question. The Sphere Standard of 3.5m2 is a global average, but local circumstances, customs and timeframes must also be taken into account.

The full Covered Living Space standard, indicators and guidance notes can be found here in full:

Before identifying shelter solutions, work out the average pre-disaster size of family accommodation, plus how much external space families are used to using. If families generally use external space for activities such as cooking, it will be essential to include this. This will tell you the scale of the problem if the space you can provide must be smaller.

While “any decision to provide less than 3.5m2 per person should be highlighted, along with actions to mitigate adverse effects on the affected population”, the duration of displacement (Guidance Note 2) is important. If the space you can provide is only slightly smaller, families may be able to cope for a significant period, however, if the new space is 60% of the pre-disaster average or less, families may struggle in the longer term.

Work with the families to find out whether site planning arrangements that allow for closer living may be acceptable. For example, families may accept semi-detached shelters that share a wall, or they may be happy to locate shelters around a courtyard and share the external space. When planning the site in this way be mindful of the effects of overcrowding and be sure to mitigate these.

In the short term, alternatives to emergency or transitional shelter units may be possible. These include host families in the community who can house the affected families, or landlords who can provide rental options.

In the longer term it may be necessary to secure more land, which is likely to be formally owned in urban areas. Municipal authorities or private landlords may require the completion of formal administration procedures, registration forms and MOUs. These may take time, so it is important to manage the expectations of the families.

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2017-10-10 15:50:37 +0000
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Feb 22 '18