Today World Shelters submitted a proposal in response to the recent request from Mercy Corps, outlining costs and details to supply 200 TranShels and/or TShel2s for a new agricultural community development program in Haiti. Through explicit statements such as “temporary shelters, such as tents, only provide temporary solutions”, World Shelters Executive Director Bruce LeBel emphasized the need for transitional housing in order to progress toward permanent stability. If relief agencies don’t provide shelter that can stand up recurring and expected natural disasters, then a cycle is created where inhabitants are stuck relying on agencies for basic living needs every time disaster strikes. Instead, World Shelters proposes creating a stable environment where communities can work together to provide for themselves and increase their own productivity by living in a house that not only allows for day-to-day comfort and security but also doesn’t fall apart or flood under heavy winds or rain. LeBel goes on to say, “Relief agency recognition that the goal is ‘recovery’ establishes the imperative that relief materials for shelter needs serve as a precursor and integral element of a permanent house. It is now fair to say that the relief agencies do not want to deploy tents, or even the ubiquitous plastic sheeting. They deploy them because of a lack of alternatives.” World Shelters has developed two highly engineered alternatives, the TranShel and the TShel2, that can fill the need for transitional shelter, with the possibility of permanence.
These two shelters are both highly adaptable to local needs and situations, with the two-story TShel2 specifically addressing the issue of land shortage in Haiti. LeBel also recognizes the need to partner with local governments, businesses, manufacturers, relief agencies, land owners, and workers in order to not only provide the most effective service but also to increase self-reliance and productivity among citizens. He says, “Local labor and local materials are integral in the implementation of TranShel [and TShel2] shelters. By partnering with established local agencies and local governments we can accurately determine appropriate project processes…The goal is to shift the long term management of these shelter assembly and construction projects to local organizations and individuals, and to thereby create more effective projects with a maximum level of community ownership. This process illustrates how the TranShel [and TShel2] is more than a shelter but a source of job creation and economic growth towards community recovery.”
World Shelters is eager to begin deploying the TranShel and TShel2 on a wider basis in Haiti, but hopes to partner with other relief agencies or NGOs in order to achieve maximum efficiency and provide alternatives to plastic sheeting and dangerous, poorly constructed IDP camps to as many people as is possible. Mercy Corps would be an ideal partner and we look forward to hearing their thoughts on our proposal.