practical shelter innovation for disaster relief


The RSK Shelter

In 2008, Shaun Halbert, led a disaster reponse team to Nepal delivering 600 tents to families made homeless by the Koshi River floods. Three months later he returned to carry out a survey of living conditions in the camps. He reported back that families fortunate enough to be living in tarpaulin and bamboo frame shelters built by Oxfam engineers were enduring far better than those families provided with tents that were poorly ventilated and badly degraded.

During further deployments to Africa, Asia and South America he also observed that families invariably struggled to build their own shelters after a disaster when only supplied with a tarpaulin and no frame to support it. After the Haiti earthquake in 2010 hundreds of these poorly constructed shelters collapsed when the heavy rains came, and it was this that provided him with the motivation to develop a new type of shelter. The result was the ReciproBoo Shelter Kit (RSK) that uses a simple but exceptionally strong reciprocal frame roof.

In June 2010 he took the first tubular steel prototype RSK shelter to the IFRC in Geneva to demonstrate it to the shelter department. Encouraged by the response, in 2012 he built the first bamboo RSK shelters in Nepal and started a series of RSK training workshops with the Myanmar Red Cross.This included training a village community in the Irrawaddy Delta, that was at high risk of annual flooding, to build and use the RSK shelter. In May 2017 a combined workshop with UNHCR in Sittwe (Rakhine Province) trained 31 INGO staff and 22 government engineers with the intention of providing transitional RSK shelters for Rohingya refugees returning from Bangladesh. The recent change of circumstances for the Rohingya has resulted in this being put on indefinite hold.

In Octobert 2017 Shaun joined the Cluster Sector in Cox's Bazar and built the first (6) RSK shelters for recently arrived Rohingya families in Kutupalong makeshift camp. The plan is to return and build a further 100 RSK shelters early in 2018.

Core values

The ReciproBoo shelter is a not for profit project. It is "open source" with all data recorded and freely available to everyone on the website www.reciproboo.org.

We are intent on maintaining our grassroots values by continuing to focus on the needs of the individual displaced family. We believe that the RSK bamboo shelter provides new standards of strength, security, comfort and dignity for a family. Our aim is to empower individuals with the ablity to not only build but also to insulate,repair,upgrade and ultimately relocate their shelter, if needed, in a way that has not been possible before.

At the same time we will continue to engage with all in the Shelter Sector to maintain the high standards and professional monitoring required for introducing a new type of shelter.


For the first 3 years the program was entirely self- funded. In 2013
an anonymous donor sponsored the costs of the Nepal bamboo workshop. The grant provided by winning the 2015 AidEx Innovation Award has enabled us to start the RSK training courses in Myanmar and also fund the first disaster preparedness program in an Irrawaddy Delta village. Montgomery Exhibition Ltd has continued this support to the present day. A generous donation from an anonymous donor in the Netherlands has enabled us to continue the Myanmar training and build the first RSK shelters for Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh. All funds are administered through our registered UK Charity, ReciproBoo Shelter,Heath and Education (no.1173501).

Our aims

1. To set up further disaster preparedness training programs based on the RSK shelter for communities at risk.

2. To train the field staff of shelter organisations to build and use the RSK shelter for large scale disaster emergency response.

3. To use the education system, particularly primary and secondary school teaching, to widely dissminate the reciprocal frame concept behind the RSK shelter. The aim is to ensure every refugee, or future refugee, is empowered to build their own emergency RSK shelter if required.

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