CRS Shelter Innovations Recognized by World Bank

India shelter

Issac Boyd, left, CRS’ Emergency Response Team Shelter Advisor, and Kirtimaya Mishra, program manager for CRS’ Disaster Risk Reduction project in India, were in invited to participate in a shelter innovation competition sponsored by the World Bank. Photo by Emily Ardell/CRS

Two creative shelter design projects piloted by Catholic Relief Services in India and Peru have been selected as finalists in a prestigious competition sponsored by the World Bank in Washington, D.C. The CRS proposals were two of only 100 selected as finalists from a pool of nearly 1,800 submissions. The goal of the competition is to identify 20-25 innovative, early-stage projects addressing climate adaptation and its impact on the world’s poorest countries and most vulnerable people.

The winner could receive a two-year grant of nearly $200,000.

CRS India has been piloting a model of flood-resistant shelters in the states of West Bengal and Orissa, areas prone to flooding from typhoons and monsoons. Families are often forced to evacuate their homes, only to return to a house made uninhabitable by the water. Many are forced to move to temporary shelters. It’s a cycle that happens every year.

Peru shelter

Emily Ardell, left, CRS technical advisor in Bolivia, and Romina Sanchez, CRS advocacy coordinator in Peru, present a shelter design that was selected to compete in a grant program sponsored by the World Bank. Photo by Issac Boyd/CRS

The CRS proposal focuses on training impoverished homeowners, local artisans & tradespeople to construct low-cost, flood-resistant houses, using locally available materials and adapting local construction techniques. The CRS model uses materials such as compressed earth block, and reinforced concrete pillars, along with a raised plinth design. The project targets the poorest most vulnerable households in the communities.

CRS Peru, working with our Caritas partners, has been piloting two simple home improvements high in the Andes region, 12,000 feet above sea level. There, impoverished Quechua families live in adobe homes with straw roofs. They burn unprotected indoor fires for heating and cooking during increasingly longer winters.

The CRS shelter project selected for the World Bank competition proposes the installation of trombe walls—homemade solar panels affixed to the north side of the home—that would increase indoor temperature and keep families warmer. The proposal also includes the installation of cooking stoves that channel smoke to the outside of the home via a chimney. These two simple home improvements could decrease firewood consumption by about 75%, decrease black carbon emissions and increase the quality of life for families in the region.

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