Structure is developed by the team behind Better Shelter. Over the past five years we have collaborated with leading UN organizations, NGOs, governmental donors and the private sector. So far we have provided 60,000 shelters that benefit displaced families as shelters, classrooms and health care facilities in over 60 countries.
We are proud of what we have achieved but acknowledge that we only reach a fraction of the affected people we once set out to support. The emergent climate migrant crisis will be a defining challenge of our generation. Over the next 30 years, displacement is forecast to increase even more due to the changing climate, and we need to try new approaches.
So, we listened to partners and affected communities, and learned two things:
When a disaster strikes – do not fly in unnecessary emergency materials.
Don’t replace what is locally available – reinforce it. Typically, locally sourced and built shelters are less expensive, they stimulate the local economy and employ familiar building traditions that fit the local climate and norms better than the imported ready made shelters and tents.
Make sure that what you fly in is good and versatile.
When many thousand shelters are constructed at once, local supply chains commonly do not cope and available resources are often insufficient. This may lead to even more challenges: trees are cut down for reconstruction of shelters, which leads to deforestation and in turn disturbs the local ecosystem. And when cash is sent in to support self-recovery, it can lead to price shocks in the local market, making goods unavailable for the local community and affected populations.
Structure – a new approach.
Structure is a new approach to shelter. Instead of sending in tents or a prefabricated shelter, we only deliver a robust metal framework that can be deployed quickly with a tarpaulin cover. This serves as emergency shelter in the immediate aftermath of a disaster. Over time, as local materials become available and local markets start to function – Structure can be upgraded with local materials by NGOs, local workers and/or residents themselves.
Global scale and local know-how
In 2020 we have been running the first pilot programs in India, Rwanda, Tajikistan and Afghanistan. With our partners – Aga Khan Agency for Habitat (AKAH) and SEEDS – as well as with the local communities, we have learned how to upgrade Structure with a variety of local material – like bamboo, timber and wattle and daub.
In 2021 we will scale up programs with the aim to reach 10, 000 families. We will continue working with our partners, communities and supporters to learn and amplify local building wisdom and traditions – and do it with a minimum of prefabricated materials that can be used for effective response to the greatest challenge of our time.