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




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

Sri Lanka: IDPs and Returnees

During Sri Lanka's 20-year civil war more than 1 million people were uprooted from their homes or forced to flee, often repeatedly. Many found shelter in UNHCR-supported Open Relief Centers, in government welfare centers or with relatives and friends.

In February 2002, the Sri Lankan government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) signed a cease-fire accord and began a series of talks aimed at negotiating a lasting peace. By late 2003, more than 300,000 internally displaced persons had returned to their often destroyed towns and villages.

In the midst of these returns, UNHCR provided physical and legal protection to war affected civilians – along with financing a range of special projects to provide new temporary shelter, health and sanitation facilities, various community services, and quick and cheap income generation projects.

Sri Lanka: IDPs and Returnees

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: Fleeing to Safety

More than 1.5 million people flee their homes in North-West Pakistan.

Fighting between the army and Taliban militants in and around the Swat Valley in Pakistan's North-West Frontier Province has displaced more than 1.5 million people since the beginning of May. Some of the displaced are being sheltered in camps set up by the government and supplied by UNHCR. Others - the majority, in fact - are staying in public buildings, such as schools, or with friends and extended family members. Living conditions are harsh. With the onset of summer, rising temperatures are contributing to a range of ailments, especially for villagers from Swat accustomed to a cooler climate. Pakistan's displacement crisis has triggered an outpouring of generosity at home. UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres is urging a "massive" assistance effort from abroad as well.

Pakistan: Fleeing to Safety

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.