BANGKOK, 30th November 2005: Habitat for Humanity and UN Habitat are exploring working together to produce semi-permanent houses that could provide winter shelter for thousands of people homeless by the 8th October earthquake.
The proposal would involve using a UN-endorsed house design that would be sourced from a Habitat resource center serving Balakot, an area west of the earthquake's deadly epicenter.
The A-frame house design covers 40-50 sq. m., large enough for housing people and farm animals in inclement weather. The walls are made of sandbags and the roof of up to 16 sheets of galvanized iron. Timber is used for the roof frame support.
Insulation comes from an ingenious use of running string inside the roof, and stuffing old rice sacks packed with straw and other materials between the string and the roof sheets.
The house is designed to prevent strangers from viewing women and family activities.
All the components can be taken apart and used in building permanent accommodation in the spring.
A trial house is due to be ready by early December.
"If the idea comes to fruition and funds are available, the houses will be rolled out in groups of 500 units," says Barry Mackey, Habitat's regional program manager for India, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
As well as being the base for launching the UN Habitat house, the proposed Habitat resource center would have other functions. It would provide technical support to other non-governmental organizations involved in shelter and related services; provide direct shelter assistance as funding was available; network with UN Habitat and other groups in the delivery of shelter to affected areas; and explore opportunities for on-going programs.
The Habitat resource center in Balakot should be functioning by February 2006 at the latest and be operational for at least 12 months.
Meanwhile, delivery of hundreds of winter shelter kits is continuing. Working with a network of hospitals and clinics in the Balakot area, Habitat advisors have been providing logistical assistance for the delivery and installation of the kits.