Haiti, 2008, Floods - Shelter Case Studies

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Haiti - 2008 - Flooding - Distribution, cash and training
Natural disastersB.6
Haiti - 2008 - Flooding
9 Programmes were able to adapt over the course
of the emergency, taking into account changing
conditions and learning from previous programme
successes and challenges
9 The programme ensured that families living in
collective centres had options for return.
9 Use of different sized transitional shelter kits allowed
for support to be scaled according to needs
9 Cash for those who rented shelters allowed families
without land to be supported by the programme.
8 By supporting families in collective centres and
camps early on in the response, people were incouraged
to remain displaced.
8 Shelter tool kits were found to be of limited use for
families who previously rented houses or whose houses
remained buried.
8 When distributions of return kits were made, it was
not clear that those who received them would not
qualify for future support in displacement locations. As
a result, many families took the return kits but did not
- Despite prolonged negotiations, it was not possible
to identify safe land on which to relocate those families
whose houses remained at risk from future flooding.
- The funding was extremely limited for the response.
This limited options and reduced the capacity of
international organisations to provide support
- As the result of challenges in beneficiary
identification, the project was not able to support host
families to provide much of the shelter. However there
were separate food distributions, cash for work, clean
up programmes and water and sanitation programmes
in the host communities within Gonaives.
Strengths and weaknesses
Hurricanes and tropical storms
Disaster date:
1st September 2009.
Number of people displaced:
165,337 families; half of the
population of Gonaives were
Project target population:
Initially 60,000 people in
collective centres. Later
programmes targeted smaller
numbers of those who had not
1000 family cash distribution
1222 families in timber framed
shelters (735 half kits, 487
full kits) and cash to cover
Shelter size:
Cash was provided to support
families to rent a room for six
Transitional shelter kits
provided materials for an 18m2
Occupancy rate
These shelter projects were in the complex urban environment of Gonaives, Haiti. Multiple approaches
were used to support families living in collective centres and temporary sites to return. Initially programmes
focussed on distributions of shelter items and toolkits. Later programmes diversified to include cash to
support families that were renting, and shelter materials and support for those who had identified land.
– Programmes
– Registration
– Shelter prototype
– Schools re-open
– 2,000 families in
collective centres
– 6,619 families in
collective centres
– Hurricane Ike
Tropical storm
– Hurricane Gustav
– -Hurricane Fay
6 months
12 weeks11 weeks9 weeks8 weeks4 weeksSept. 7Sept.1Aug. 26July 7Project timeline
Distribution, cash and training
Case study:
Full case study
Shelter Projects 2009 B.6Natural disasters
families to repair their houses.
These kits contained one reinforced tarpaulin, five corrugated
iron sheets, and a tool kit ( one
saw, a hammer, a shovel, a trowel,
1kg of nails and two polypropylene
sleeping mats).
Unfortunately, a significant
number of families who received
return kits remained in the collective centres. The kits proved to be
of limited success because:
• Many families did not own a
house that they could repair
• The kits were distributed
unconditionally so that
families were able to receive
them and remain in collective
centres awaiting further relief
• The kits were suited to timber
frame construction. In the city
many of the shelters were built
with blocks or masonry.
Collective centres
The need to restart schools and
further pressure by the owners of
the buildings that were being used
as temporary accommodation lead
to pressures to evict the affected
families, but many had no other
options. The closure of the first collective centre lead to the establishment of temporary sites with tents
for shelter.
The implementing organisation
supported the families on these
tented sites by improving the site
layout, and improving the drainage.
Finding a solution for those
living with host families was a
lower operational priority due to
reduced risk of evictions, as well as
significant challenges in identifying
As the programmes took place
in an urban environment, identifying who actually lived where was
challenging. Many families left a
single family member in displacement sites to receive additional distributions. In some cases families
had members in several sites.
Two months after the disaster,
a survey was conducted to gain a
better understanding of what was
preventing families from returning
home. All of the major organisations operating in Gonaives took
part in these surveys, and registered the families. Teams surveyed
families in the collective centres
between 3am and 4am to ensure
that those surveyed were in fact
resident in the shelters.
Once families were registered,
additional families would not be
added to lists and would not be
able to receive support.
Exact address and mobile phone
numbers of those in collective
centres were collected and houses
were visited one by one to assess
damage. Houses were assessed as
being either destroyed or damaged.
When it was not possible to
verify property titles through
paperwork, ownership of houses
was verified by discussions with
those in the neighbourhood
The transparency of the process
was a key part of it being accepted
by the displaced families.
After the registration, just over
2000 families were found to be
remaining in the collective centres
and sites. For these families two approaches were adopted. Depending
Before the flooding
In 2004, the city of Gonaives
was hit by tropical storm Jeanne.
The ensuing flooding killed over
2000 people.
By 2008, the city of Gonaïves,
had an estimated population of
300,000 people
After the flooding
In 2008, hurricanes and tropical
storms Fay, Gustav, Hanna and
Ike led to severe flooding. Eight
percent of the Haitian population,
were affected, 793 people were
killed and crops were destroyed.
The town of Gonaives was
most severely affected. 80 percent
of the city was submerged under
two metres of water. Although the
death toll was lower, the damage
was greater than in the floods of
2004. The receding flood waters
left more than three million tons of
Over half of the population of
Gonaives was displaced, finding
refuge with friends and family or
in over 200 collective shelters in
schools, churches and warehouses.
Major clean-up operations ran
for many months. Many families
were not able to return to their
houses until the mud was cleared.
The response was significantly
underfunded; the United Nations
appeal reached only 40% of its
First return kits
In the first months after the
flooding, relief items were distributed, with a focus on families living
in collective centres.
The government kit consisted
of one foam mattress, one sleeping
bag, one blanket, one hygiene kit,
and one jerry can.
The organisations involved
agreed to distribute return kits
which were intended to support
Damage in Gonaives
Photo: Joseph Ashmore
Hotel used as a collective centre
Photo: Joseph Ashmore
Haiti - 2008 - Flooding - Distribution, cash and training
Natural disastersB.6
upon their circumstances, families
would either:
• receive cash for rental or
• support with transitional shelter
materials and construction.
Cash distribution
Approximately 1000 families
remaining in collective centres
received cash, up to an agreed
value. This value was equivalent to
a one year rental of a room for a
family. To qualify for this, families
living in collective centres either:
• were tenants prior to the
disaster, and hence did not want
to repair a houses belonging to
someone else, or
• were owners whose home was
still flooded or covered in mud
or they lived less than 10m from
a main city canal.
The distribution was conducted
in partnership with another international organisation who distributed to approximately half of the
families, using identical distribution and verification systems. The
process for cash distribution was:
• Once assessed, families had a
maximum of four days to rent
a room for one year. People
did not have any problems in
finding somewhere to rent.
• The families would bring a
signed a pre-agreement with
landlord stating the rental rate.
From this the maximum amount
that the organisation would pay
was agreed. The organisation
would only pay rent up to an
agreed maximum.
• The organisation would visit
the house and verify with the
• The organisation would give
agreed lists to the banks for
the rental allowance to be paid
direct to beneficiary.
Transitional shelters
Two types of repair or reconstruction kits were developed.
These included materials to build an
entire timber framed shelter (full reconstruction kit) or a reduced set of
materials to repair damaged shelters
(half repair kit). These kits were
combined with technical assistance,
and some cash for transport.
1,222 families (54% of the
targeted families) living in nonschool temporary shelters and tent
sites received repair kits. Of these,
735 families received the smaller
(half repair) kits and 487 received
full reconstruction kits.
All kits were purchased by the
implementing organisation and
distributed with the assistance
of partner organisations in three
different sites in the city. Some
of the materials were distributed
through vouchers that the families
could redeem for agreed shops
within an allotted timeframe.
Given the various constraints,
including budget deadlines and
limitations it was decided that
materials would be distributed in
a one-off distribution rather than
with a phased approach. This led to
several families not building or completing shelters with the materials.
There were several cases where
vouchers and distribution cards
were faked. The organisation noted
that harder-to-copy vouchers would
be required for future programmes.
The short time periods in which
they could be redeemed helped to
reduce the risk of forgeries.
The distributions were
conducted in conjunction with
one partner organisation provided
technical support. There was additionally follow up and monitoring
of families who had moved.
The programmes had proven
very labour intensive, with multiple
processes depending upon on
previous processes. This did lead to
delays but proved largely effective
in offering families options away
from collective centres.
Following the cash and materials
distributions as well as public information, the numbers of people
remaining in camps and collective
centres was very small. Targeting
the final families was then very
As a result of the cash
programme, rents did rise, but not
With the closure of collective
centres, the organisation began a
programme to rehabilitate them.
This was followed by a nationwide
assessment of building that could
be used as collective centres in
case of other disasters. Of these 40
were targeted for use as hurricane
shelters. These buildings were
repaired and upgraded to improve
preparedness for future disasters.
Materials list
A full repair kit given to each
family, allowed for construction of
a floor slab, a frame and a roof of
approx 18m2. It was not enough for
rendering the walls,
Material Quantity
Wood (roof) (1” x 3” x 16’) 10
Wood (frame) (2” x 4” x 12’) 4
Wood (roof) (1” x 4” x 12’) 6
Nails (3” 75mm x 3mm) 0.5kg
Nails (roofing) (3” 75mm x
Cement 4 bags
Corrugated iron (1.8x0.9m) 16
Flat sheet for roof ridge 1
Families were responsible for masonry and
sand. If rocks were not available they need
240 construction blocks (30x20x15 cm).
Tool kit to be shared between 5
Material Quantity
Spades 2
Wood saw (750mm) 2
Claw hammer 1
Bucket 2
Roll of wire 3
Tape measure 1
Trowel 2
Pick axe 2
Pliers 1
Sack 1
Prototype transitonal shelter
Photo: Joseph Ashmore

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