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Asia Shelter Forum on "Resilient Shelters and Settlements" in Asia

Asia Shelter Forum (ASF) arranged two days program for Resilient Shelters and Settlements for Vulnerable Populations in Asia at the Pan Pacific Sonargaon, Dhaka in Bangladesh from November 28-30. (Photo: Shiba Mary D’ Rozario)

The sixth annual conference of the Asia Shelter Forum (ASF) was hosted by the Government of Bangladesh at the Pan Pacific Sonargaon, Dhaka in Bangladesh from November 28-30.

Under the leadership of the Department of Disaster Management (DDM) with technical and financial support from ASF organizing committee members. The theme of the conference is “Resilient Shelters and Settlements.”

“The Asia Shelter Forum is a great avenue for regional learning and sharing experiences to mitigate the vulnerabilities of disaster-prone countries”- Honorable State Minister, Dr. Md. Enamur Rahman MP, Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief.

Asia is highly vulnerable to natural disasters and climatic hazards, which are projected to increase in frequency and intensity due to climate change. Therefore, safe and resilient homes are critical to allow families and communities to rebuild their lives after disasters while reducing their risk and preparing for future disasters.

Bishop James Romen Boiragi, President of Caritas Bangladesh, Sebastian Rozario, Executive Director of Caritas Bangladesh, Marc D’Silva, Regional Director of CRS also spoke in the sessions.

Bishop James said, “The humanitarian response is to save lives, relieve sufferings, and protect human dignity.”

“It is maybe expensive but necessary. And shelter is “a vital survival place in times of disaster or displacement.” It is essential to “restoring personal security and dignity,” said Bishop Boiragi.

“The shelter is a basic need — a human right — and the absence of appropriate shelter may have widespread implications on health, mental well-being, security, protection, safeguarding, and the speed of livelihood recovery,” Bishop said.

Bishop added, “Our ultimate goal should be; for the affected households to receive better quality and appropriate service timely, and cost-effective shelter assistance; better support for their immediate recovery; and long-term resilience against future disasters.”

Against the backdrop of the increased severity of natural disasters in Asia affecting the most vulnerable, the ASF conference brought together over 350 participants from across the country,  the region, and globally from over 15 different countries both in person and virtually.

ASF aims to improve coordination, collaboration, and share learnings and best practices relating to shelter among countries in the region by engaging governments, donors, development partners, shelter cluster mechanisms, and humanitarian organizations and partners.

State Minister, Dr. Md. Enamur Rahman MP, Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief inaugurated the event, highlighting the significance of the ASF “The Asia Shelter Forum has demonstrated effective partnership and robust collaboration, so that we can work together to provide responsive assistance to support affected people to survive, recover, and rebuild their lives with dignity.”

Md Kamrul Hasan ndc, the Secretary of MoDMR, shared that shelter is one of the basic needs of human beings, and these shelters are damaged frequently by various disasters. There is a scope for enhancement of design and technology for the construction of low-cost shelters by the responsible agencies.

He anticipates that new innovative ideas and best practices by sharing examples of other country participants in this year’s Asia Shelter Forum can also enrich all the shelter sector actors.

The Director General of DDM and Chair of this year’s ASF event said, “The shelters and settlements issue is one of the crucial aspects of disaster management, and it’s important that we constantly discuss, learn and share our experiences. The organizations working with shelters and settlements in Bangladesh will have another avenue through ASF for showcasing successes and areas to improve idea generation.” 

Sebastian Rozario, Executive Director of Caritas Bangladesh, said, “It is a significant and meaningful event for all of us, with its aim to improve coordination, collaboration and share learning and good practices among countries in the Asia Region by engaging governments, practitioners, donors, partners and humanitarian actors.”

“I believe that the conference will give all of us a space to share ideas and lessons learned on shelter and settlement initiatives as per its mandate. Furthermore, it will help to create a stronger community of shelter practice across the region contributing to the global shelter forum,” said Rozario

The two-day conference followed by a field visit to Nagarkanda, Faridpur by the ASF delegates on 30 November where they will have the opportunity to see first-hand, the Government of Bangladesh’s shelter efforts through the flagship Ashrayan project showcasing scaling-up interventions targeting 50,000 vulnerable landless families, including those affected by natural disasters.

Asia Shelter Forum is a regional forum, initiated by shelter support practitioners in 2015 in Bangkok.  

The last Annual ASF conference was held in November 2021 in Nepal with the Government of Nepal handing over the chairmanship to the Department of Disaster Management, Bangladesh to host the Annual Conference of Asia Shelter Forum 2022 in Bangladesh. The next Asia Shelter Forum will take place in 2023 with the host country still to be confirmed. - Nikhil Gomes



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