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

3.5 Upgrades in unplanned settlements and existing environments

”Individuals affected by humanitarian emergencies increasingly live in urban areas, informal settlements and collective centres, rather than in camps or planned settlements. Humanitarian actors need to consider the challenges and opportunities that this evolution presents for displaced persons with disabilities” - IASC Guidelines on the inclusion of persons with disabilities in humanitarian action, p158.

For persons with disabilities, temporary settlements are full of barriers that are difficult to overcome. Addressing these barriers through adaptations and upgrades is necessary, but alternatives for relocation or return must also be considered. Involve OPDs, camp managers, protection and MHPSS colleagues and male and female residents with different types of disabilities in identifying interventions to provide security and accessibility. 

Some of the most vulnerable people are found among the displaced population in spontaneous settlements. The priority is to improve safety and accessibility where possible, and to find alternative shelter for the persons with disabilities who are most at risk, without disrupting support networks. 

Determining priorities and reasonable levels of investment is a key challenge when working in existing contexts, such as urban areas, with numerous barriers. Interventions that increase safety and protection should be prioritised highly, for example reducing overcrowding to contribute to psychosocial wellbeing and safety. There can also be grounds for higher investment in an established, permanent community compared to a temporary settlement. Attention must also be given to community acceptance and activities and improvements that can address attitudinal barriers as well as physical ones. 

3.5.1 Join persons with different types of disability for a transect walk. Look for physical barriers, but also discuss other factors that prevent participation and equal access to services and community activities. This may affect how you go about your intervention; for example, by initiating an awareness campaign along with a cash-for-work programme involving persons with disabilities. Interventions without community understanding or support can put persons with disabilities at increased risk.
! There are numerous barriers in existing settlements, including topography, ground surface, drainage canals, damaged roads, staircases, rubble, tent lines, or vegetation. Make a map and indicate if some areas are more inaccessible than others.
3.5.2 Main circulation routes and pathways connecting shelters of persons with disabilities with services and facilities in the settlement should be accessible and wheelchair friendly. Compacted gravel or aggregate can be used to make a solid surface. Sandbags with or without added stabilisers, can be useful in certain contexts. Simple handrails can be constructed using ropes or bamboo poles.
3.5.3 As with planned settlements, ensure that pathways are safe and well-lit for all groups to transit in at all times of the day/ night alone, including persons with disabilities, women, children and older persons.
3.5.4 Remove debris, vegetation, obstructing tent lines and other barriers along main circulation routes.

Barriers that cannot be removed, such as staircases or drainage canals, should be fenced off and signposted or painted in a contrasting colour. Indicate an alternative passageway, crossing or access ramp.
3.5.5 Consult persons with disabilities in inaccessible areas about the possibility of moving to a more suitable location nearby. Avoid separating persons with disabilities from support networks.
3.5.6 Coordinate with other sectors and offer support with adaptation of facilities to make them more accessible.