Everyone has the right to housing. It has been declared as a fundamental human right fy the United Nations. This encompasses living in peace, dignity and with the security of tenure. 20% of the world's population are homelss or live in very poor housing, such as slums or shanty towns. Climate change, worldwide crises and the continuity of natural and manmade disasters afflict already vulnerable countries or communitities. The displaced populations need to be provided with shelter and housing to prevent post-disaster illness or death caused by factors such as exposure or disease.
Construction industries in developing countries can be developed in order to equip them to manage disasters. The work of engineers plays a vital role in this process through facilitating appropraite and sustainable housing programmes. Developing sustainable materials, construction techniques, the rational use of vernacular materials and incorporating cultural identity and diversity into housing design are some factors that can contribute towards an improvement in the habitat development field.
Examining the emergency response in Haiti has highlighted weaknesses in the post-disaster response, including a shortage of tents and tarpaulins. UN-Habitat stated that sustainable recovery from disaster through the supply of shelter is one of the most controversial and challenging elements of the disaster life cycle, as temporary housing often becomes permanent.
There are many issues related to habitat which need to be assessed and evaluated, including the integration of disaster risk management in the construction of buildings and housing typologies used throught the disaster cycle (emergency shelter response, temporary housing response and permanent housing reconstruction in the aftermath of disaster).
Uncontrolled construction and a lack of functionality in the use of materials can prompt a shortage of materials, for example a bamboo shortage in Asia. The quality of housing construction and settlements is generally questionable due to minimum building standards and a lack of construction codes and regulations. However, when implemented correctly habitat can be used as a platform from which to raise a community's resilience, physical safety and welfare.
To get involved and contribute to our Habitat Community of Practice, sign up to the EWB-UK Habitat Google Group and click "join this group".
Engineers Without Borders UK work to date
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- PRODECI: A volunteer's blog documenting his design and construction of built infrastructure placement in Ecuador in 2007
- PRODECI: A volunteer's casestudy documenting his design and construction of built infrastructure placement in Ecuador in 2007
- ACTED: A volunteer's blog documenting his disaster relief reduction placement in Indonesia in 2009
- REDES: A volunteer's casestudy documenting his investigating into housing and sanitation in rural communities placement in El Salvador in 2009
- Shelter Associates: A volunteer's blog documenting her GIS mapping placement in India in 2009
- Also, take a look at our collection of photos and videos from placements on picasaweb.google.com/100637455804104215921 and www.youtube.com/user/EWBUK
- Structural analysis of geodesic domes - Marek Kubik
- A sustainability approach to standards for rammed earth construction in Bhutan - Zareen Sethna
- Bamboo housing in Pabal - Jaspreet Grewal
- How mud bricks work: using unsaturated soil mechanic principles to explain the material properties of earth buildings - Paul Jaquin
- Extending the collapse time of non-engineered masonry buildings under seismic loading - J Macabuag and S Bhattacharya
- A critical review of retrofitting methods for unreinforced masonry structures - A Smith and T Redman
- Local gumpole timbers and mud bricks: an example of the UK building industry's international contribution - Laura Smith
- Alternative Methods of Stabilisation for Unfired Mud Bricks - Doug Harper
- These and many other research papers can be found on our Scribd account at: www.scribd.com/EWBUK , and especially on our Habitat dedicated collection at: http://www.scribd.com/collections/4198939/Habitat
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