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Bamboo shelters: A way to help flood victims across Pakistan

The shelters, called Lari OctaGreen (LOG), can be built by six or seven people within a few hours. They were initially designed in response to a 7.5-magnitude earthquake that hit northeastern Afghanistan in 2015. Since 2018, more than 1,200 bamboo versions have been built in disaster-prone areas.

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33 million people have been affected by the “never-before-seen” floods in Pakistan, and many of them are still looking for safe havens after record monsoon rains damaged or completely destroyed more than a million homes. One-third of the country has been buried by the disastrous flooding that occurred this summer, which was made worse by glaciers melting. According to authorities, it could take up to six months for the water to recede.

Yasmeen Lari, an architect, and the Heritage Foundation of Pakistan have been working nonstop to give the people of Sindh province, which has been severely affected, the knowledge and resources they need to build prefabricated bamboo shelters.

Read more: Angelina Jolie writes a painful note on floods in Pakistan

The shelters, called Lari OctaGreen (LOG), can be built by six or seven people within a few hours. They were initially designed in response to a 7.5-magnitude earthquake that hit northeastern Afghanistan in 2015, with a pilot program providing temporary homes to several hundred families in neighboring Pakistan, where the majority of deaths occurred.

Since 2018, more than 1,200 bamboo versions have been built in disaster-prone areas. (Pakistan is the eighth most vulnerable nation to the climate crisis according to the Global Climate Risk Index, despite European Union data showing that it is responsible for less than 1% of planet-warming gases).

The project aims to give people in disaster-stricken areas a sense of agency by teaching them how to build their own homes — and helping them generate income in the process, as many have lost their livelihoods. Communities are also taught ways to deal with future disasters, such as making aquifer trenches and wells to absorb rainwater.

Read more: Floods in Pakistan: Global response and responsibilities

“The people who are impacted want to contribute the most,” Lari said in a phone interview, explaining that many of the project’s artisans are from the flooded villages. They have also been helping identify who needs help and how to deliver the prefabricated parts.