Planning and Development Works

Earthquake Victims Emergency Shelter Kutch, Gujarat


This project has been promoted and implemented by the Nivara Hakk Welfare Centre (NHWC). The architect, an active member, and others from the NHWC, visited the affected villages many times and even stayed at the relief camps, which helped them establish a close relationship with the people. The architects could thus evolve a relevant and acceptable model for the emergency shelter.

Immediately after the recent earthquake in Kutch, thousands of people chose to live in the open fields and on the roadside, afraid that the roofs and walls would fall on them. With the extreme temperatures, ranging from 8NC at night to 38N C during the day, a quick assembly of several earthquake-resistant, emergency shelters became a pressing need.

Bamboo or steel frameworks, covered with tarpaulin and reinforced-mud insulation, were proposed, for they could be assembled easily with minimal manpower and professional inputs. Besides, they allowed for flexible clusters to be set up on common village land. Individual family shelters helped families regain courage and engage in a meaningful dialogue about their future.

In the interim period, before the reconstruction programme for permanent housing was undertaken, about 800 emergency shelters for individual family units were erected by the NHWC in Ramvav Village. These were financed by Jet Airways. An additional 200 units, financed by the Siemens Workers’ Union, 150 units by YUVA and another 530 units by other agencies, were erected in various other villages.

Construction and materials: The superstructure was made of square, steel tubes. A layer of bamboo mats and mud plaster with tarpaulin covers constituted the roof. One of the side panels had a roll-up door and the other a roll-up window.

Model unit: The different components were prefabricated in Ahmedabad and Bombay at 50 units a day and transported in a single truck by road to the village. A unit can be assembled by four people in about 45 minutes. About six units were assembled simultaneously, thus erecting 50 such shelters every day.

People’s participation: The simplicity and ease of construction enabled the affected people to actively participate in the assembly and erection operations. Besides, they could improve the core shelter by adding a plinth, finishing the floor, or extending a verandah, which they did ingeniously to personalize their new spaces.

Investment in disaster management: These shelters work as a long-term investment for they can be dismantled and stored in the unfortunate event of another calamity. This is an important architectural contribution to disaster management.

Promoter: Nivara Hakk Welfare Centre.
Funding: Jet Airways for Ramvav village (800Nos.),
Siemens Workers’ Union, YUVA.
Area: 150 sqft. each (3000Nos.).
Cost: Rs. 6000 each.
Supporting architect: Shreyas Rane.
Execution: NHSS activists, the affected people.