Build back safer key message poster
Journal

Prioritising Build Back Safer Messages for Humanitarian Shelter

Humanitarian shelter assistance increasingly employs build back safer messages as a technical assistance tool to disaster-affected communities. We sought to prioritise the importance of key messages for small, light-weight timber shelter using a combination of Delphi and Analytical Hierarchy Process (AHP) methods. A panel of twelve academic and practitioner experts were asked to rank build back safer messages developed in the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan in 2013 which have formed the basis for subsequent humanitarian messages in the Asia-Pacific region. Findings revealed three groups of shelter key messages by importance: (1) bracing and joints, (2) foundations, tie-downs, and roofing and (3) shape. However, there was low consensus among panellists in their judgements of these overall comparisons. The individual structural components used in guidance within each message were also ranked with high consensus among panellists. Our results were consistent with the original message ordering, but expert judgements revealed differing relative structural capacities between components. The resulting numerical weightings and rankings offer clearer guidance on the relative importance of different groups of build back safer messages for non-engineered shelter and housing in low- and middle-income countries. Results may help humanitarian agencies create more targeted messaging to support safer and more durable shelter.

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Housing under construction in Nepal
Journal

Adoption of Seismic-Resistant Techniques in Reconstructed Housing in the Aftermath of Nepal’s 2015 Gorkha Earthquake

Earthquake affected households too often insufficiently apply seismic construction knowledge during reconstruction. This study aims to assess to what degree safety guidelines have found their way to practice in Nepal. Differences are explored between communities in the Gorkha and Okhaldhunga districts, which received differing levels of technical assistance following the 2015 earthquakes. Seismic resistance of houses was assessed 3 years after the earthquakes. Findings from 955 houses in 25 communities show high degrees of adoption of earthquake-resistant construction knowledge in all selected communities. Variation in safer construction across communities differs only slightly for different intensities of humanitarian technical assistance. This finding points toward the need to more closely examine the communication methods employed and motivations of households to build back safer.

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Asphalt road with mountain in background
Journal

Mitigating Infrastructure Disaster Losses Through Asset Management Practices in the Middle East and North Africa Region

Despite expanding infrastructure investments in developing countries, maintenance of constructed infrastructure is not keeping pace and there is a growing need to focus on the long-term operational demands of new assets to reduce vulnerability. In the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, natural hazards and civil conflicts continue to undermine development and disaster risk management. This research sought to examine how infrastructure asset management can reduce the impact of disasters in the MENA region. Twelve interviews were conducted with asset management and disaster risk reduction experts the MENA region and Australia – the latter to identify transferable asset management best practices. Qualitative analysis of interviews identified regional lessons to advance asset management practice as a disaster risk reduction tool. The four main findings were: (1) asset management practice can be a proactive disaster policy; (2) there is need for appropriate levels asset management policy in the MENA region; (3) asset prioritisation improves the effectiveness and decision making in risk management; and (4) whole of life consideration enables effective planning for asset management practices. In alignment with the priorities of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, this research unpacks geopolitical factors affecting disaster risk and provides knowledge to strengthen governance to manage disaster risk in the MENA region. The research further outlines the barriers and challenges that hinder successful asset management policy implementation, as well as proposes recommendations for disaster mitigation strategies using infrastructure asset management.

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Timber framing of house walls and roof
Journal

Defining a Humanitarian Shelter and Settlements Research Agenda

Despite the knowledge gained on post-disaster sheltering and housing over the last several decades, there remains a disconnect in the evidence needed by humanitarian practitioners and the learning that the research community is capturing. To determine the research needed by practitioners, we assembled a Delphi panel of experts in humanitarian shelter and settlements. They first identified and then ranked the relative importance of research topics. Ninety-six research needs were identified and ranked by importance in six key areas that included: (1) comparing and evaluating approaches to sheltering, (2) shelter and settlement programming, (3) design and construction of shelter, (4) understanding impacts and outcomes of shelter, (5) disaster risk reduction and the humanitarian-development nexus, and (6) challenging contexts and topics. Top research priorities identified include a need to better understand how to support shelter self-recovery, longitudinal and long-term impacts of shelter, and the transition from response to recovery. The resulting needs provide a research agenda for humanitarian organisations, academic institutions, and donors, aligning with the Global Shelter Cluster’s strategy to invest in evidence-based response.

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Window of house with metal covering
Journal

Knowledge Adoption in Post-Disaster Housing Self-Recovery

The purpose of this study is to explore communication of hazard-resistant construction techniques after disaster in the absence of outside influence. It further aims to unpack the barriers and drivers in the adoption of knowledge processes to identify strategic recommendations to enlarge adoption of safer construction practices by local construction actors. This paper is based on analysis of stakeholder perspectives during post-disaster reconstruction in the Philippines in the province of Busuanga after Typhoon Haiyan in 2013. Data was collected from six communities that received no external housing assistance, analyzing surveys from 220 households, 13 carpenters, 20 key-actors coordinating reconstruction or recovery efforts, as well as 12 focus group discussions. This research argues for a stronger role of governmental agencies, vocational training schools and engineers. Current communication of typhoon-resistant construction knowledge is ineffective to stimulate awareness, understanding and adoption by local construction actors and self recovering households. The analysis in this study focuses on a small sample of communities in the west of the Philippines that are not frequently affected by typhoons. This is one of the few scholarly works in the Philippines focused on adoption of safer construction practices by community-based construction actors when technical housing assistance is absent.

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Concrete lined drain with flowing water
Journal

An Open Data Approach to Mapping Urban Drainage Infrastructure in Developing Communities

Urban flooding in developing countries represents a growing threat to sustainable development efforts, yet the tools needed to study these infrastructure systems in data-scarce environments are woefully inadequate. This study seeks to propose a standardized approach and methods for mapping urban drainage systems in developing communities. The research draws on a case study from the Philippines, which sought to conduct rapid elevation surveys and drainage assessments employing open source geographical information system (GIS) tools. We develop a standardized procedure for digitizing drainage systems using OpenStreetMap and Field Papers, as well as discuss applications of this data for drainage design. The results contribute to a methodological framework that can be replicated in other similar developing communities where study of urban drainage is needed for sustainable development and disaster risk reduction efforts.

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Timber roof truss under construction
Journal

Assessing the Impact of Household Participation on Satisfaction and Safe Design in Humanitarian Shelter Projects

Participation has long been considered important for post‐disaster recovery. Establishing what constitutes participation in post‐disaster shelter projects, however, has remained elusive, and the links between different types of participation and shelter programme outcomes are not well understood. Furthermore, recent case studies suggest that misguided participation strategies may be to blame for failures. This study analysed 19 shelter projects implemented in the Philippines following Typhoon Haiyan in November 2013 to identify the forms of participation employed. Using fuzzy‐set qualitative comparative analysis, it assessed how household participation in the planning, design, and construction phases of shelter reconstruction led to outcomes of household satisfaction and safe shelter design. Participation was operationalised via eight central project tasks, revealing that the involvement of households in the early planning stages of projects and in construction activities were important for satisfaction and design outcomes, whereas engagement during the design phase of projects had little impact on the selected outcomes.

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Journal

A Comparative Analysis of Coordination, Participation, and Training in Post-Disaster Shelter Projects

The delivery of post-disaster shelter assistance continues to be fraught with challenges derived from the coordination of resources, involvement of project stakeholders, and training of households and builders. There is a need to better understand what project elements in the delivery of post-disaster shelter projects most influence resilience and sustainability. To address this need, we examined nineteen post-disaster shelter projects in the Philippines following Typhoon Haiyan. We first characterized coordination, participation, and training employed across the planning, design, and construction phases of shelter projects and then used fuzzy-set qualitative comparative analysis (fsQCA) to assess the influence of these elements, alone and in combination, on building resilient and sustainable community infrastructure systems. Findings show that early involvement of households in planning efforts, combined with subsequent training, was important in evolving recovery outcomes. Our results point to the importance of: (1) supporting household sheltering processes over delivering hard products; (2) strategically linking project processes across phases; and (3) aligning humanitarian actions with long-term development. Conclusions from this study contribute to theory of sheltering in developing communities and more broadly to theory of recovery processes that link to community resilience and sustainability.

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Construction worker nailing flooring on timber house
Journal

Household Construction Knowledge Acquisition in Post-Disaster Shelter Training

The incorporation of safer building practices into shelter after disasters continues to plague recovery efforts. While limited resources are one potential cause, evidence from case studies suggests that poor adoption of safer construction may stem from a knowledge deficit. Despite these shortcomings, previous research has done little to examine the current state of construction education and training in post-disaster shelter and housing, and there is lacking evidence to support how households acquire new knowledge of construction practice. Examining nineteen shelter projects in the Philippines following Typhoon Haiyan, training methods were categorized using Kolb’s experiential learning theory poles. Fuzzy-set qualitative comparative analysis (fsQCA) was then used to analyze the impact of these methods on community construction knowledge. Findings reveal that households acquired knowledge either through a combination of formal training methods that encompassed reflective observation, active experimentation, and concrete experiences or alternatively through observation of on-site construction activities.

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Journal

Inter-Organizational Resource Coordination in Post-Disaster Infrastructure Recovery

Despite significant advances in strengthening post-disaster recovery efforts, misaligned strategy and inefficient resource allocation are far too often the norm for infrastructure reconstruction. To examine the inter-organizational networks that form to coordinate resources for infrastructure reconstruction, we employed social network analysis in 19 communities in the Philippines following Super Typhoon Haiyan, at 6 and 12 months post-disaster. To build these networks, we analysed interview, field observation and documentation data collected from non-governmental organizations, local governments and communities. A survey questionnaire was also administered to organizations working in selected communities to validate networks. Results from network analysis established that information was the most commonly shared resource by organizations, followed by financial, material and human resources. Government agencies had the highest actor centralities; however, qualitative data suggest that these roles were the result of obligatory consultations by international organizations and lacked legitimacy in practice. Findings further demonstrate that networks become more decentralized over time as actors leave and roles become more established, influenced by short-term expatriate contracts and the termination of United Nations supported cluster coordination. Findings could help organizations strengthen humanitarian response efforts by attending to resource allocation and knowledge sharing with other organizations.

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