Expert of the Week   for  27 Apr - 03 May 2015

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Mario Flores

Director, Field Operations, Disaster Risk Reduction and Response

Habitat for Humanity International (HFHI) Expertise:  Humanitarian response and disaster risk reduction, with focus on shelter and settlements, as well as community development and support services for housing and human settlements.

Mario is a civil engineer with post-graduate studies in housing, human settlements and disaster management, with over 25 years of combined global professional experience on humanitarian response, risk reduction and community development. In his current role at Habitat for Humanity, he provides leadership and support to the network of Habitat organizations on the strategic development of initiatives and programs in the areas of disaster risk reduction and humanitarian shelter. He also participates in several global and regional shelter-related networks and collaborative groups and is currently the Co-chair of the Shelter and Settlements Working Group at InterAction, the leading consortium of US-based humanitarian and development NGOs.

Building back better (safer): A discussion on constrains to self-recovery and how affected families and communities can be better supported to achieve safer shelter and settlements after disasters

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QQuestion by Mr Julian Templeton

Your week as 'Ask an expert' is clearly most appropriate in light of the recent Nepal EQ-Could you outline the response HFHI intends to undertake regarding its mission: developing innovative housing & shelter assistance models for sustainable interventions. Previous disasters such as the 2001 Gujarat & 2010 Haiti earthquakes provided lessons & innovations, what is most appropriate&sust. for Nepal?

Mr Julian Templeton Consultant | UNISDR

APosted on 01 May 2015

Many thanks for your question, Julian.

In effect, Habitat or Humanity is responding to the earthquake in Nepal with shelter assistance. Our general strategy known as "Pathways to Permanence" calls for the reduction of vulnerability as we provide and enable shelter assistance to those affected by disaster. We recognize that affected families and communities are the first responders to their situation and their efforts should be recognized and supported by humanitarian agencies. Habitat advocates for emergency and early recovery shelter interventions that point to permanent shelter and settlements by following an incremental process of "sheltering".

Specifically for Nepal, Habitat is invoved in distribution of emergency shelter kits and rubble and debris removal that allows for next steps in the process of "sheltering". Working in coordination and collaboration with the Nepal Shelter Cluster Habitat will also be involved in safety and structural assessments of damaged houses, to allow families safe return or determine next steps.

Eventually, Habitat will implement house repairs and the construction of new core houses. In Nepal, Habitat has developed a house design that utilizes treated bamboo as the main structural system (columns, beams, roof rafters and purlins). The wall system is also composed of bamboo stripes with a finish of cement-sand mortar plaster. This solution is innovative in the sense that utilizes vernacular materials widely available, it is safe and resistant to seismic forces and is sustainable and friendly for house expansions.

QQuestion by Mr shailesh dhyani

In the climate change situations, and after disasters how can protect the people. What basic rights should be guaranteed by the government to its citizens during disasters?

Mr shailesh dhyani student | student

APosted on 01 May 2015

Thank you for your question, Shailesh.

Climate effects and weather patterns changes are puting millions at increased disaster risk. As recognized by international law, it is the responsability of national governments to ensure that its citizens affected by disasters receive protection and assistance. Governments also have an obligation to promote economic recovery and recontruction of affected areas. In reality, many governments become overwhelmed with demands after a major disaster and the international community intervenes to fill gaps in coordination and provision of assistance. During disasters, basic rights to be guaranteed and protected by the government are the right to life with dignity, the right to protection and the right to assistance based on the humanitarian imperative of unconditional help based only on need.This can be materialized by governments by having preparedness plans, creating awareness and educating people exposed to disaster risk and quickly implementing life-saving assistance in the immediate aftermath of disaster while mustering and coordinating international assistance.