|BASIN - News No. 10 July 1995: Reconstruction and Resettlement (Building Advisory Service and Information Network, 1995)|
Shelter Provision and Settlement Policies for Refugees
Dr. Roger Zetter
pp. 29-106 in: Studies on Emergencies and Disaster Relief Report No.2
Nordiska Afrika institutet
S 75147 Uppsala
For those who want to read more on the developmental approach to
disasters and emergencies, the above state-of-the-art review by Roger Zetter
will provide a good starting point. It challenges the relief approach to shelter
provision for refugees, and provides useful arguments for more long-term
The review starts off by looking at shelter provision, making the case that refugees or disaster victims are mostly perfectly capable of dealing with that themselves, provided the right support is given.
It then moves on to settlement planning, looking at the limitations of and potential improvements to current practice, and again particularly looking at the potential of refugee involvement in planning their settlements.
In the context of the current theme of the BASIN News, chapter 6, entitled From Relief to Development: a macro-economic perspective is perhaps the most interesting. Dr. Zetter makes the case that the development-led approach to refugee shelter is not new, and was suggested as early as 1961 in the UN General Assembly; but it is only in the mid 1980s that this approach gets more attention, in various conferences and papers. The chapter mentions several of the negative impacts refugees may have on their host regions: for example, investments may be diverted, labour and commodity markets distorted, scarcities created, and infrastructure overloaded. But it also offers very strong arguments for potentially positive impacts, made possible by the disruption and change created by disasters, which could help to kick-start the economy. Housing and construction are generally recognized as catalysts of economic growth: reconstruction and resettlement of refugees can play the same role. It is also recognized that a bottom-up approach is likely to be more effective; refugees or disaster victims should participate in the process. The rehousing of displaced persons in Cyprus is used as an example of a successful development-led approach.
As a state-of-the-art review, this report also contains an extensive bibliography, which invites further reading.