Project : Sheltering from a gathering storm

Project : Sheltering from a gathering storm

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Project detail:
Status: Completed
Countries: Asia, India, Pakistan, Viet Nam

Shelter accounts for the highest monetary losses in climate-related disasters and is therefore a significant cost for governments, the private sector, and nongovernmental organizations working on disaster risk reduction or post-disaster reconstruction. At the household level, the shelter is often the single largest asset owned by individuals and families, and the failure of shelters to protect people from hazards is a significant risk to lives and livelihoods. This two-year research programme targeting peri-urban areas in India, Vietnam and Pakistan identified practical solutions for resilient shelters and the long-term economic returns of investing in such shelter structures, focussing on cities facing risks from typhoons, flooding, and extreme heat. The project was led by ISET-International in partnership with Hue University (Vietnam), Gorakhpur Environmental Action Group (India), ISET-Pakistan, and ISET-Nepal.

Recognising that reductions in losses can be achieved through better shelter design, Resilient Housing Design Competitions hosted by the Vietnam and India teams were a key feature of this project. The competitions involved local architecture schools and professional firms, and developed climate-adapted shelter designs that are low cost, technically effective and culturally acceptable; the best-judged shelters were the subject of the cost-benefit analysis research. Kate Hawley of ISET International reflects on a field visit by participants in the Vietnam competition in a blog on the ACCCRN website. The winning designs can be seen in short brochures for the Vietnam and India competitions. An interview with the India competition winners highlights their motivation for participating and the key features of their design.

To investigate the economic returns of resilient shelters, the research team adapted a climate-based probabilistic cost-benefit analysis method originally developed by the Risk to Resilience Study Team. The method estimated the probability of losses experienced by homeowners during extreme events via historical data, and integrated climate projections to identify potential future losses. By integrating the use of shared learning dialogues, consultations with the communities identified practical responses to extreme events which were also later incorporated in the analysis. Government officials, builders, and local masons participated throughout the project lifetime.


Key messages resulting from this research are that:

  • Resilient housing designs can cost-effectively reduce losses by vulnerable communities due to floods, storms, and high peak daily temperature events.
  • Access to affordable resilient housing designs and the funding required to implement them is especially important to the poor and near-poor who have access to land and housing.
  • Simple, low-cost design features such as those identified through Resilient Housing Design Competitions can significantly reduce losses from climate risks.
  • Qualitative and quantitative analyses of investments in climate-resilient designs show high benefit-cost ratios under a range of climate scenarios.
  • Access to affordable financing coupled with awareness and training of builders are the primary barriers vulnerable populations face in accessing climate resilient designs.
  • While shelter designs can reduce the impact of extreme storms and floods, the ability to address increases in temperature through shelter design changes alone is limited.

In Vietnam, this research programme built upon and linked to a Rockefeller Foundation-funded project facilitated by the Da Nang Women’s Union, which provides loans to low-income households (mostly women) to build climate-resilient shelter. The innovations identified during this project informed the loan program. By the time Typhoon Nari hit in October 2013, 245 homes integrating the resilient housing design concepts developed through the Resilient Housing Design Competitions had already been built or adapted in the city with this affordable financing. All of these 245 homes withstood the storm, while hundreds of other homes were damaged or lost. The short publication Lessons from Typhoon Nari: Storm Resistant Housing shown to be Effective, and accompanying blog, describe this housing project and experience from the typhoon. In 2013 the city of Da Nang adopted a climate-resilient policy that requires all new buildings within the city limits to be built with climate-resilient principles.

By 2014, outside of the direct remit of this project, the scheme benefited 320 disadvantaged households. In 2014, a further financial commitment was made to build an additional 105 storm-resistant houses by 2017. The scheme was covered by Thomson Reuters in their article Typhoon-proof homes in Vietnam build hope for disaster-prone areas. Next City also produced a short film about the initiative.

In 2015 the Asian Development Bank began a feasibility study on scaling up storm resistant housing across Da Nang. This study will identify appropriate credit schemes and mechanisms for building storm-resilient housing for low-income households in Da Nang, and conduct further research on technical designs and solutions for storm-resilient housing. From 2016, the Nordic Development Fund will support an initiative to develop practical and sustainable incentives for private and public sector actors in Da Nang to build climate resilient housing for low-income households.

In India, ISET International and Gorakhpur Environmental Action Group partnered with the National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM) to integrate disaster risk and climate adaptation links into policy. A National Workshop hosted at NIDM in January 2014 resulted in a Delhi Declaration that lays out climate change adaptation and disaster risk management concerns and actions needed by various agencies, and which includes recommendations from this work. As part of a follow-on project scaling up this work, a training manual for masons was prepared that was disseminated through the State Government’s skill upgrading programme. This training manual also has guidelines on low-cost techniques and concepts for flood resilient housing designs.

This project incubated initiatives which have gone on to be awarded UN Momentum for Change awards under the Urban Poor pillar.


A full project outline and all resources are available on the Sheltering from a Gathering Storm project page of the ISET website.

A summary of the results is outlined in the report Sheltering From a Gathering Storm: The Cost and Benefits of Climate Resilient Shelter. A separate one page document highlights the key messages.

More detail regarding the India, Pakistan and Vietnam case studies is available in the below publications:

A series of papers have been published in academic journals:

The Sheltering from a Gathering Storm discussion paper series presents the results of many aspects of the project’s analysis and results:

A separate set of climate briefings summarise an evaluation of scientific information on climate hazards and climate change projections for Da Nang in Vietnam and Gorakhpur in India. The results of this evaluation informed the cost-benefit analysis:

Lead: ISET International, USA; Dr. Marcus Moench and Kate Hawley

Partners: Ajaya Dixit, ISET Nepal; Dr. Tran Huu Tuan, Hue University, Vietnam; Dr. Shiraz Wajih, Gorakhpur Environmental Action Group, India,; ISET Pakistan

CDKN funding: £800,000