A team of researchers from the Healthy Housing for the Displaced project attended UK Shelter Forum 22 in London on 8 June 2018. The Shelter Forum is a community of practitioners, mainly working in the shelter sector, who share knowledge regarding humanitarian shelter and settlement. The UK Shelter Forum has held twice yearly meetings since 2006. This year’s event was co-hosted by CARE and Habitat for Humanity. The theme of the forum was the Future of Shelter, with a focus on humanitarian reform, and the ‘humanitarian-development nexus’. A good portion of the day was centred on humanitarian response, its systems and finance, mainly multi-purpose cash offers to the displaced people.
The keynote address on ‘Remaking Humanitarian Action for the Modern Era’ was delivered by Christina Bennett from Overseas Development Institute (ODI). You can follow the discussion on Twitter @hpg_odi #RemakeAid
Shelter Projects was briefly introduced by Alberto Piciolli from Global Shelter Cluster. It is a biannual publication which compiles case studies of emergency shelter responses. All case studies, overviews and opinion pieces can be found at www.shelterprojects.org
Dr Francis Moran and Noorullah Kuchai, PhD student at the Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering at the University of Bath, presented their work in the afternoon session on ‘Linking Research and Practice’. There was a lively discussion on how to identify research priorities and how this can be linked to UK funded research.
It was mentioned that currently a portion of the overseas aid budget is going to research but there is no significant evidence of this benefiting overseas emergencies. It was recognised that it may be too early to see such an effect. People who work in the humanitarian sector would very much like to see such evidence.
Some of the questions raised included:
- What evidence do we need?
- How can research outcomes and findings influence donors?
- How do we articulate research gaps, what are they?
- How to marry up research organisations and humanitarian workers to make joint funding bids?
One issue the practitioners agreed on was their difficulty in getting beyond paywalls to read academic articles in the field. Practitioners usually don’t have time to, and don’t really know how to search for such papers, although it was pointed out that they do need to read them as complex ideas cannot be reduced to bullet points.
The session’s conclusion was to establish Shelter Research Working Group that would bring together researchers and practitioners, including the UKADR (UK Alliance for Disaster Research).