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Sheltering From a Gathering Storm

Program Locations: India: Gorakhpur; Pakistan: Faisalabad, Multan, Rawalpindi; Vietnam: Da Nang
Project Duration: April 2012–April 2014
Project Lead: Kate Hawley, LEED AP. Economics Research Associate

Target

To test the hypothesis that climate-resilient shelter designs have a positive benefit to cost ratio accruing to vulnerable populations over the 30 year design life of most shelter investments.

Project Overview

Shelter design is one of the greatest factors influencing the loss of lives and assets during extreme climate events and is, therefore, a significant cost for governments, the private sector, and nongovernmental organizations working on disaster risk reduction or post-disaster reconstruction. The Sheltering From a Gathering Storm project has generated substantive information on the costs and benefits of climate resilient shelter designs. This information will contribute to the transformative changes necessary to make communities more resilient to future disasters. Using cost-benefit analysis, this applied research project has produced outputs that provide insights into both the economic and nonfinancial returns of adaptive, resilient shelter designs that take into consideration hazards such as typhoons, flooding, and temperature increases. The research spans South and Southeast Asia, with a focus on Central Vietnam, Northern India, and Central to Northern Pakistan.

 

 

Economic Analysis

The research on shelter designs used climate-based probabilistic cost-benefit analysis at the household level. Using historical data, we estimated the probability of asset losses (livelihood, shelter, and contents) in extreme storm and flood events under existing climate conditions. To reduce these losses, climate resilient measures can be adopted, which then result in a reduction in damages. Reductions in losses that could be achieved through changes in shelter designs, identified through the Resilient Housing Design Competition, were then estimated, again under current climate conditions. These “avoided losses” represent the economic returns that would be generated if future conditions matched those experienced historically. Following this, available evidence on climate change was incorporated into an analysis of both the design elements and economic return. Overall, the approach was to investigate the damages associated with a typical house as well as damages associated with a climate resilient house, and identify future savings associated with implementing risk reduction under both current and projected conditions. 

Figure: Risk Reduction Framing

The illustration reflects the interactions at the individual shelter level.

 

Case Studies

This project explored the costs and benefits of climate resilient housing designs in rapidly growing urban locations in Da Nang (Vietnam), Gorakhpur (India), and Rawalpindi, Faisalabad, and Multan (Pakistan). Each of these cities face a key climate hazard that impacts the livelihoods of poor and vulnerable populations (see Table 1). Da Nang sits along the central coastline of Vietnam, contoured by the sea and mountains, and storms bring typhoons and flooding to the area—significantly impacting the rapid urbanization of the city. Gorakhpur lies in the Terai, an inland, relatively flat zone between the Himalayas and the sea. The flat terrain combined with the two key river basins that cross through the city means that flooding has been a feature of life in Gorakhpur for centuries. However, with recent urban development, flooding and waterlogging have become a serious problem, as there is nowhere for the water to go. The three cities in Pakistan lie along a central transect of the country and illustrate the varying challenges that households face in peri-urban locations. These three cities are safe from urban flooding but face major issues with increasing temperature and humidity, which promote the spread of disease and other health risks. 

Table: Study Locations and Their Climate Hazards

 

Location Topic Vietnam: TYPHOONS India: FLOODING Pakistan: HEAT
Call to Action Investment in storm resistant shelter is cost effective when compared to spending for post-disaster recovery. Investment in flood resistant shelter is cost effective when compared to spending for post-disaster recovery. Innovation and investment will be required to address the impacts of temperature increases.

Financing opportunities need to be made available to low- and middle-income households. Flood resilient designs are feasible at costs below those of current standard construction. In addition to innovation, educating and empowering builders and individuals at the household level is the most cost-effective way to implement measures to address temperature increases.

Additional design innovations are essential for replication in different physical and cultural contexts. Additional design innovations are essential for replication in different physical and cultural contexts. Research is required to improve understanding of the impacts of temperature on interlinked urban systems. With increased dependence on active cooling, energy and water systems are central to the functionality of shelter.

Educating and empowering builders and individuals at the household level is the most cost-effective way to implement design insights. Educating and empowering builders and individuals at the household level is the most cost-effective way to implement design insights.
Key Messages and Findings Cost-effective design interventions that can increase the resilience of housing to typhoons and other extreme storm events are available. Autonomous strategies for building the resilience of shelters can be effective but can also be enhanced through improved city planning. As daytime and nighttime temperatures increase, Pakistani citizens will have no relief from the heat, and active cooling systems will need to be employed.

These interventions are not effective, however, if storm intensities exceed design thresholds (in this case, Beaufort level 12). Building resilience can, in some cases, involve choices and actions that don't require large investments beyond those already being made. While insulation and improved ventilation can reduce the impact of increases in peak daily temperatures, extended increases in nighttime minima above physiological thresholds cannot be addressed by passive cooling measures. Air-conditioning appears to be essential, but current approaches depend on carbon-emitting energy systems and are thus ultimately maladaptive.

Given their effectiveness, resilient designs could be a major area for government investment. Local masons and contractors are a key intervention area for training on climate resilient design principles.

Research is required to identify locations and conditions under which design thresholds are likely to be exceeded as climate evolves and where implementation of such measures could be maladaptive.

 

Resilient Housing Design Competition 2013

As part of this project, ISET-International, Gorakhpur Environmental Action Group, Hue College of Economics with support from Hue Planning Institute, Da Nang University of Architecture, and SEEDS-India organized the Resilient Housing Design Competition in both Da Nang, Vietnam and Gorakhpur, India. This competition was open to engineers, architects, and students working as teams or individuals and encouraged to show off their design talent and skills in creating low-cost housing that is resilient to climate change. Here we share with you the winning designs: TT-Arch Company’s typhoon resilient house and “Aqueous Communes,” conceived and designed by the architecture firm Mad(e) in Mumbai.

Vietnam

The competition rules required each design to include: two or three rooms, a kitchen, and a toilet; to keep construction costs under USD 10,000; to consider climate resilience, environmental sustainability, and the sourcing of local materials and labor; to integrate innovative construction technologies that meet building codes and bylaws; and to gear all design considerations toward low-income households as the target population. A brochure describing the winning design is available here.

India

The competition rules required each design to include: one or two rooms, a kitchen, and a toilet; to keep construction costs under INR 500,000 (the estimated cost of Mad(e) in Mumbai’s design for a 75 m2 house is INR 400,000); to consider climate resilience, environmental sustainability, and the sourcing of local materials and labor; to integrate innovative construction technologies that meet building codes and bylaws; and to gear all design considerations toward low-income households as the target population. A brochure describing the winning design is available here

 

Professional Staff Involved

Shashi Chopde, Senior Research Associate

Maria Fernanda Enriquez, Grants Manager

Michelle Fox, Director of Art + Communications

Kate Hawley, LEED AP. Economics Research Associate, USA

Fawad Khan, Senior Economist

Karen MacClune, Senior Staff Scientist

Ken MacClune, Senior Staff Scientist

Sharmeen Malik, Research Assistant

Marcus Moench, President

Kate Hawley, LEED AP. Economics Research Associate

Sarah Optiz-Stapleton, Senior Associate Scientist

Atta ur Rehman, Research Associate

Lea Sabbag, Research Assistant 

Kate Hawley, LEED AP. Economics Research Associate

Dilip Singh, Senior Research Associate

Phong Tran, Technical Lead, Vietnam 

The materials below are outputs from this project. All materials can also be viewed under the main menu item "RESOURCES".


 

This research program was funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and the Netherlands Directorate-General for International Cooperation (DGIS) for the benefit of developing countries and managed under the Climate and Development Knowledge Network. Their mission is to support decision-makers in designing and delivering climate compatible development. They do this by combining research, advisory services and knowledge management in support of locally owned and managed policy processes. They work in partnership with decision-makers in the public, private and non-governmental sectors nationally, regionally and globally. They hold strongly to the ideals of human development and environmental sustainability.

 

Partners:

Dr. Bijay Singh, Gorakhpur Environmental Action Group

Dr. Caspar Ammann, National Center for Atmospheric Research

Dr. Sarah Opitz-Stapleton, Staplets Consulting