Transitional shelter in post-disaster contexts


What have been the different approaches/strategies to transitional shelter in post-natural disaster contexts in developing countries and what lessons have been learned (with a focus on the non-technical aspects of transitional shelter)?


Literature on approaches to transitional shelter in post-natural disaster contexts reflects the variety of different approaches and definitions, which complicate understandings of transitional shelter and lessons learned.

There are three main approaches to transitional shelter, all of which incorporate disaster risk reduction measures to reduce household vulnerability:

  • An incremental process rather than a multi-phased approach (Shelter Centre/IOM).
  • Rapid, post-disaster shelter made from materials that can be upgraded or re-used in more permanent structures, or that can be relocated from temporary sites to permanent locations (IFRC).
  • Addressing the short to medium term needs of disaster affected households, involving the provision of inputs to create shelters consistent with internationally recognised guidelines (USAID).

A number of lessons can be drawn from brief case studies from Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, Indonesia, Philippines, and Haiti, including:

  • Transitional shelter is cost-effective over time if implemented correctly, and provides good opportunities for scale-up by using common local and regional materials.
  • Meaningful engagement with affected communities/individuals is important to ensure they lead on it, design and implementation is context-appropriate and the needs of the marginalised and vulnerable groups are considered.
  • Knowledge of good, safe building practices is required so that houses incorporate disaster risk reduction measures.
  • Pressure should not be taken off the permanent housing reconstruction effort.
  • The integration of other sectors/issues, such as livelihoods, WASH and transport, is important for the success of the transition.


Suggested citation

Rohwerder, B. (2016). Transitional shelter in post-disaster contexts (GSDRC Helpdesk Research Report 1387). Birmingham, UK: GSDRC, University of Birmingham.