Emergency shelter

The types of materials used for shelter and the ways in which the materials are delivered, distributed and disposed all impact the environment. Which in turn impact human welfare and prospects for recovery. Collecting large amounts of timber from nearby forests can cause rapid deforestation and reduce the chances for an agricultural community to rebuild their livelihoods. Plastic sheeting and other materials must be properly disposed of once the shelter is no longer needed. Also, procuring materials may leave an unwarrantedly large carbon footprint.

GuidelinesBack to top


Checklist-Based Guide to Identifying Critical Environmental Considerations
in Emergency Shelter Site Selection, Construction, Management
and Decommissioning (ProAct)

Guidelines to assess whether environmental issues have been appropriately addressed in emergency shelter efforts.  May be used to review planning for new emergency shelter sites.  Includes detailed checklist with guidance and sources for further instructions at every stage.



NRC Internal Guidelines – Timber Procurement and Specifications (NRC 2006)

Practical and technical guide with pictures and measurements about building supplies such as timber and bamboo. The guidelines cover the procurement process, environmental considerations in needs assessments and a preface discussing the negative environmental impacts from timber use. Discusses legal aspects of timber procurement and sustainable certification.



Post-Disaster Debris Guidance

Guidance focuses on negative impacts of debris on environment and the need to handle debris by the shelter cluster in an emergency immediately rather than waiting 1-2 years.



Plastic Sheeting Guidelines (Oxfam & IFRC)

Detailed descriptions and explanations of what materials to use and when in a simple, basic and concise manner.  Environmental considerations are made throughout and referenced.  Environment mainstreamed in document, from procurement to usage to disposal.



Shade Nets: use, deployment and procurement of shade net
in humanitarian relief environments (MSF & Shelter Centre 2006)

Technical guide with pictures and diagrams.  Mentions environmental implications of using local natural resources.



Tents: A guide to the use and logistics of family tents
in humanitarian relief (OCHA 2004)

Practical guidance on pieces and materials that compose a tent. Considers environmental impact of different sizes, materials and types of tents. Readers are encouraged to take into account the environment and are offered some basic examples.  Performance standards and indicators include environmental components.



Timber as a construction material in humanitarian operations
(OCHA, IFRC, CARE International 2009)

Guidance discourages timber use and considers alternative materials, explains when and how to use timber, includes complaints or situations raised by communities about shelter, addresses logistics and relates most of this to environmental impact.  Environment is mainstreamed into the document. Intended for in-country staff in humanitarian programmes involving construction.



Brief Guide to Asbestos in Emergencies: Safer Handling and
Breaking the Cycle (ProAct)

Guide offers case studies and recommendations regarding handling and managing asbestos and environment.



Post-Disaster Livelihood Assessment: Rules of Thumb for Emergency Shelter

Assessment uses basic questions and rules regarding environmental impact of shelters and livelihoods when designing new shelter-related livelihood activities, expanding activities or reviewing activities.



Transitional Settlement and Reconstruction After Natural Disasters
(OCHA, DFID, Shelter Centre 2008)

Comprehensive manual for shelter in every phase, from emergency to development.  Environmental impacts are taken into consideration in type, location, materials, livelihoods, fuel, water and potential tensions with surrounding communities.

ToolsBack to top


Generic Terms of Reference for Shelter Cluster Environment Advisor

Generic ToRs includes tasks and duties such as building partnerships, assessment, programme coordination, planning and strategy, monitoring and training civil society and national authorities.



Sheltering or Evacuation Checklist (Health Protection Agency)

Easy checklist that covers environmental and health impacts of chemicals, hazardous materials, bombs, etc.

TrainingBack to top


Environment Training Modules for Emergency Shelter Experts (ProAct)

Training starts with introduction to cluster system and environmental, shelter and transitional concepts and how they connect.  There are sections on environmental assessments, but not about cluster operations and decisions that might poorly impact environment, except in shelter sight selection.



Shelter Training Toolkit (Shelter Centre 2008)

Training covers strategies, planning, implementing and closing.  Environmental impacts to consider are highlighted, but tools or technical advice on how to improve are not provided.

Case studiesBack to top


Trip Report Haiti Shelter Cluster Environment Advisor Field Review

Example report from environment advisor including problems and recommendations.  Serves as a useful model and lessons learned from environment advisor.

ResourcesBack to top


Shelter Centre Website

NGO offering resources and support for shelter cluster and partners, including training.



Timber for Aceh: Timber Suppliers Contact Details (WWF 2005)

Detailed directory of Forest Stewardship Council Certification timber suppliers in different countries.  May be used for humanitarian relief procurement.