For those forced to live under canvas, a simple solution to a searing problem

Making a Difference, 11 July 2012

© UNHCR/Q. Afridi
Lal Khan spends time with his son in the family's newly-constructed tent shelter. The shelters, which are being built in the Jalozai camp for the internally displaced, provide relief from summer heat and winter cold.

NOWSHERA, Pakistan, July 11 (UNHCR) As scorching heat grips large areas of Pakistan, the UN refugee agency is working to make living in a canvas tent more bearable for 40,000 displaced people.

With assistance from the European Commission, UNHCR has been constructing protective covers around tents in the Jalozai camp near Peshawar that offer shade and lower temperatures in a barren area where the thermometer regularly reaches 45 degrees.

A pilot phase of the project launched last month provided some 120 families with tent shelters. The project will go on to build covers around 8,000 family tents, bringing relief from the heat to more than 40,000 internally displaced people. The shelters will remain up year round and will provide additional insulation in the winter, when temperatures plummet.

"My children couldn't sleep in the tent at night and during the day would look for shade under a tree," said Lal Khan, 45, one of the beneficiaries of the new shelters.

In constructing the shelters, a bamboo frame is first assembled around the family's tent. Plastic sheeting is then suspended over the roof of the frame while netting surrounds the structure to allow for air circulation while serving as a purda or privacy screen. The shelters have the added benefit of extending the family's living area.

© UNHCR/Q.Afridi
Plastic sheeting provides shade for families living under the tent shelters, while porous screens offer privacy and air circulation.

"The tent shelters provide a simple solution to a number of issues," said Zelalem Mengistu, a UNHCR shelter expert. "They offer relief from hot and cold weather, protect the tents from high winds and allow the families to eat and socialize outside their tents while maintaining their privacy."

Some 12,900 displaced families live in the Jalozai camp. Nearly all of them 12,700 families are from Khyber Agency while the remaining 200 families are from Bajaur Agency.

"Now that they have a roof over their heads and are more comfortable my children are better able to focus on their studies," said Lal Khan who arrived at Jalozai four months ago with his wife and four children.

By Qaiser Khan Afridi, in Jalozai camp, Nowshera

• DONATE NOW •

 

• GET INVOLVED • • STAY INFORMED •

UNHCR country pages

Internally Displaced People

The internally displaced seek safety in other parts of their country, where they need help.

Related Internet Links

UNHCR is not responsible for the content and availability of external internet sites

Pakistan Earthquake: A Race Against the Weather

With winter fast approaching and well over a million people reported homeless in quake-stricken Pakistan, UNHCR and its partners are speeding up the delivery and distribution of hundreds of tonnes of tents, blankets and other relief supplies from around the world.

In all, the NATO-UNHCR airlift, which began on 19 October, will deliver a total of 860 tonnes of supplies from our stockpiles in Iskenderun, Turkey. Separately, by 25 October, UNHCR-chartered aircraft had so far delivered 14 planeloads of supplies to Pakistan from the agency's stocks in Copenhagen, Dubai and Jordan.

On the ground, UNHCR is continuing to distribute aid supplies in the affected areas to help meet some of the massive needs of an estimated 3 million people.

Pakistan Earthquake: A Race Against the Weather

Pakistan Earthquake: The Initial Response

The UN refugee agency is providing hundreds of tonnes of urgently needed relief supplies for victims in northern Pakistan. UNHCR is sending family tents, hospital tents, plastic sheeting, mattresses, kitchen sets, blankets and other items from its global stockpiles. Within a few days of the earthquake, just as its substantial local stocks were all but exhausted, UNHCR began a series of major airlifts from its warehouses around the world, including those in Denmark, Dubai, Jordan and Turkey.

UNHCR does not normally respond to natural disasters, but it quickly joined the UN humanitarian effort because of the sheer scale of the destruction, because the quake affected thousands of Afghan refugees, and because the agency has been operational in Pakistan for more than two decades. North West Frontier Province (NWFP), one of the regions most severely affected by the quake, hosts 887,000 Afghan refugees in camps.

While refugees remain the main focus of UNHCR's concern, the agency is integrated into the coordinated UN emergency response to help quake victims.

Pakistan Earthquake: The Initial Response

Pakistan Earthquake: Major push to Bring in Aid before Winter

With the snow line dropping daily, the race to get relief supplies into remote mountain areas of Pakistani-administered Kashmir intensifies. In a major push to bring aid to the people in the Leepa Valley, heavy-lift Chinook helicopters from the British Royal Air force airlifted in 240 tonnes of UNHCR emergency supplies, including tents, plastic sheeting, stoves, and kitchen sets.

At lower elevations, UNHCR and its partners have dispatched emergency teams to camps to train members of the Pakistani military in site planning, camp management, winterization and the importance of water and sanitation – all crucial to containing disease during the long winter ahead.

By mid-November, UNHCR had provided a total of 19,356 tents, 152,325 blankets, 71,395 plastic sheets and tens of thousands of jerry cans, kitchen sets and other supplies. More of the agency's supplies are continuing to arrive in Pakistan on various airlifts, including a 103-flight joint NATO/UNHCR airlift from Turkey. Other UNHCR airlifts have brought in supplies from the agency's warehouses in Jordan, Dubai and Denmark.

Pakistan Earthquake: Major push to Bring in Aid before Winter

Pakistan: Returning HomePlay video

Pakistan: Returning Home

Since the beginning of November, UNHCR has been offering an enhanced package to every registered refugee in Pakistan choosing to go home to Afghanistan.
Pakistan: Helping the HostsPlay video

Pakistan: Helping the Hosts

Tens of thousands of Afghan refugees in Pakistan's Balochistan province have access to schools and basic services, but the cost is not easy to bear.
Pakistan: Pushed to SafetyPlay video

Pakistan: Pushed to Safety

Thousands are forced to flee the fighting in Pakistan's Khyber Agency on the border with Afghanistan.