In region Resources and in group Resources

All Under One Roof

1.0 Introduction
2.0 Mainstreaming disability inclusion in the shelter and settlements programme cycle
3.0 Design Recommendations and material support
4.0 Considerations based on mode of delivery and forms of tenure
Annex 1 Guiding Frameworks
Annex 2 Terms and definitions
Annex 3 Acronyms and abbreviations
Case study library

3.1 Shelter kits and other emergency household items

An immediate shelter and settlements response is characterised by distribution of emergency items to cover basic needs, including shelter kits and household items. Although these items are a quick way to provide support to those in need, there are challenges when it comes to accessibility and privacy. Items distributed can also be unsuitable or difficult to use for people with disabilities.

The following recommendations primarily address emergency needs at the shelter level. Consider whether the items provided could also contribute to addressing barriers at the community level. One practical example is making distribution sites and distribution activities inclusive. Another is considering if training activities could be used to improve the accessibility of public facilities.

3.1.1 Assess the accessibility of all parts of a distribution process from start to finish, taking into account safety issues along with the appropriateness and usability of items being distributed and the communication methods used.
Making distribution activities inclusive
  • Involve persons with disabilities and OPDs in the planning and testing of safe and accessible distribution systems and in the review of proposed items
  • Provide information about distribution activities in multiple formats (oral, print, sign language, easy-to-read/plain language, etc).
  • Identify safe and accessible locations for distribution sites that all people can reach and move around.
  • Facilitate transport, buddy systems, priority lines or delivery services for persons who are not able to reach the distribution sites.
  • Coordinate joint distributions with other sectors to minimise the burden on all recipients, including persons with disabilities and their support networks.

For more information about inclusive distributions, refer to the Good Distribution Handbook.

3.1.2 Review existing technical documentation that accompanies distributed items and make sure that guidelines and information on safe shelter repair are available in multiple accessible formats (oral, print, sign language, easy-to-read/plain language, etc).
Packaging can carry simple diagrams illustrating how any distributed items can be used safely to repair or construct safe and adequate shelter.
3.1.3 Provide support with transportation of tools and construction materials, for example through additional cash grants, home delivery or community support groups.
3.1.4 Offer technical assistance on site, and prioritise households of persons with disabilities in order to promote safe and accessible construction practices, both when erecting emergency shelters and tents. This includes avoiding barriers such as steps or thresholds at the entrance.
3.1.5 Provide additional material and technical support depending on individual accessibility needs, such as small, movable ramps. Basic materials such as ropes and wooden poles can be used for makeshift handles or railings. Additional shelter support for persons with disabilities may include household items such as bed frames and mattresses, or assistance with maintenance and winterisation.
Persons with disabilities who spend a significant amount of time indoors should be prioritised when it comes to monitoring and improving thermal comfort, natural light and ventilation. Additional items such as blankets can be vital.

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3.1.6 Structural poles are often not included in shelter kits. Consider whether these can be included as part of the assistance package, or if they can be supplied by the household. Assess the availability of local materials that could be uses as structural poles, such as timber or bamboo, and make sure that persons with disabilities can obtain the necessary material for construction.
3.1.7 Offer partition mats or additional tarpaulin sheets to protect the privacy of persons with disabilities who are housebound or use the shelter for personal hygiene. If the shelter is too small to allow persons with disabilities privacy inside, consider the possibilities for extension.
Illustration of a tarpaulin or similar sheet for internal partitioning
Tents are used in many contexts as a temporary shelter solution for displaced people. Below are some specific considerations for tent accessibility:
  • On-site assistance. Offer practical assistance to persons with disabilities to erect the tent according to the recommendations above. Send volunteers to check the tents regularly for upgrade and maintenance needs.
  • Erect a sample tent together with local disabled people's organisations and persons with different types of disabilities. Identify barriers to accessibility and discuss possible adaptations or ways to improve the design.
  • Reinforced door frames and vertical poles give persons with reduced mobility something to hold on to for support when entering and moving around inside tents and other emergency shelters.
  • A tent opening that is facing downslope can be easier to make accessible, because there is less need for drainage canals or thresholds in front of the entrance to prevent water from entering the tent.
  • If a threshold is still needed to keep out water, consider a flap that can be moved to a horizontal position or a ramp for wheelchair users to cross.
  • Identify accessible techniques for opening and closing tents, for example a rope or a stick attached to the zip, or using velcro. Consult persons with different types of disabilities on suitable mechanisms.
  • Give particular attention when positioning the guy ropes to ensure good access and movement around the tent.
  • Provide extra sheets or materials to make internal partitions in order to increase privacy.
  • Consider the use of shade nets in hot climates, or a shaded outdoor area with seating opportunities. Persons with disabilities who spend the majority of their day indoors should be prioritised for interventions.