CARE India organized a national level conference on shelter in emergencies with its technical partners Christian Aid and Sphere India on 25th February, 2016 at Royal Plaza, New Delhi. CARE India in collaboration with Christian Aid has recently conducted a study on 13 post-disaster shelter projects. Together, we reviewed the effectiveness of some of the shelter projects we have worked on and launched a publication on the outcomes and recommendations of the study.

The event started with an exchange of thoughts between eminent personalities like VK Sharma (Professor of Disaster Management, Indian Institute of Public Administration), Ashok Khosla (Board Chair, Development Alternatives), Rajeev Sadanandan (Joint Secretary, Rural Housing, Ministry of Rural Development), and Ajit Chaudhury (General Manager, Tata Sons). All of them echoed the idea that various actors like architects, engineers, climate experts, community members, and civil society need to make concerted efforts to make a lasting impact. Ashok Khosla said ‘we need to understand the science and art of disaster management’. Other speakers highlighted the significance of involving communities, skill building, and marrying local solutions with modern technology.

The stalwarts of disaster management like Mr N M Prusty (Mentor cum Director, Centre for Development and Disaster Management Support Services), Sarabjit Singh Sahota (Disaster Risk Reduction Specialist, UNICEF), Vikrant Mahajan (CEO, SPHERE India), and Zeenat Niazi (VP, Development Alternatives) shared thoughts about improving construction methods, sustainability, innovations and involving communities, while building shelter in emergency situations.

The cross-sectoral discussions ranged from making the lives of disaster affected communities convenient by building public infrastructure to adopt a rights based approach for communities. Various speakers cited examples in support of building shelters at spaces where water, sanitation, health, and livelihood are available. Participants at the event kept reinforcing that issues related to gender, marginalized communities and sexual and reproductive health rights need to be kept in mind while working on disasters. The discussion went beyond what is shelter in emergency to who we work for and how to improve in future.

It was great to see the energy and enthusiasm of the participants who exhibited an eagerness to come together and formulate comprehensive solutions. This cohesiveness will be vital in future considering the rising incidence of disasters.   CARE India was delighted to provide a platform for exchanging ideas, learning and sharing. Going, forward we would need everyone’s support to scale up some of the good practices and recommendations that emerged from the day long discussion.

Rajan Bahadur, MD & CEO, CARE India