Oxfam innovates to tackle shelter crisis in earthquake zone

Published: 22 November 2005

Oxfam International is having to innovate to fill the gaps in shelter provision for the hundreds of thousands of people left homeless by the recent Asian earthquake.

Oxfam International is having to innovate to fill the gaps in shelter provision for the hundreds of thousands of people left homeless by the recent Asian earthquake.


The current lack of thermal tents combined with the massive logistical challenges in getting aid to the most inaccessible areas is putting thousands of victims of the quake in danger.

"The lack of easily available tents means we're having to think of new ways of doing things and fast. We've already working with a tent factory in Pakistan but we're also looking for other solutions. In India we've just designed and built a shelter that ordinary people can put together from locally available materials. These temporary shelters could house thousands and be the difference between life and death," said Ashok Prasad, an Oxfam aid worker.

The temporary shelters have been five years in development. They have been
tested in cold storage warehouses and in wind tunnels:

    * They are low in cost – around $140 per unit.
    * Sleep a family of 6 people.
    * Use only locally available materials – plastic sheeting, ordinary
      plastic piping, felt insulation, rope. (Oxfam has checked and all of these
      are available on the local markets.)
    * The tunnel shaped design maximizes internal living space, especially
      important for the winter when long periods will be spent inside the tent.
    * Well insulated. They retain heat better than tents with their felt
      lining and layers designed to trap air.
    * They are easy and quick to construct and require no tools to put
      together.

"What makes these shelters so good is that they are easy to assemble, low in cost, the materials can be bought locally and most of all they are warm. We've already shared these designs with local people, other aid agencies and local officials and the response has been universally positive. The shelter challenge is massive and we're going to have to continue to innovate to overcome all the challenges, " added Prasad.

Contact Information

For interviews or further information please contact:
In the UK: Brendan Cox on + 44 1865 47 24 98 or + 44 7957 120 853
In India: Aditi Kapoor on + 91 981 030 6200

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