Design of humanitarian tents for use in cold climates

  • Manfield P
  • Ashmore J
  • Corsellis T
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Extreme climatic risks pose significant challenges to displaced populations that often lack adequate shelter. Contemporary policy documents concerning emergency shelter reveal that the scope of shelter-associated risk is much wider than simply exposure to the elements and includes a significant social dimension. However, disparity exists between implicitly accepted risks described in aid agency literature and field practice. Experience in recent disaster assistance programmes in Kosovo and Afghanistan illustrates how ill equipped the aid community is to deal with cold weather affecting transitional settlements. A review of the environmental risks associated with living in tented accommodation in cold climates reveals the difficulty of providing thermal comfort and fire safety in both heated and unheated tents. In addition, social surveys and field trials with displaced populations in Afghanistan illustrate that shelter is used, perceived and valued differently according to the ethnic and cultural background of occupants, and that these are also factors that impact on the risks they bear. Several design recommendations and guides for the use of cold climate relief tents are made, whilst acknowledging that the provision of alternative, longer-term shelter provision during the phase of emergency response is nearly always preferable.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Cold-climate shelter
  • Disaster response
  • Humanitarian aid
  • Insulated
  • Risk
  • SPHERE standards
  • Shelter
  • Shelter policy
  • Tents
  • Transitional settlement

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  • Pete Manfield

  • Joseph Ashmore

  • Tom Corsellis

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