practical shelter innovation for disaster relief

mali 1

Mali refugees use available materials to construct a makeshift shelter

Canopy pulled forward during the night.

The canopy can be secured to the side support poles for added security.

Mali refugees and ReciproBoo shelter

Refugees seek refuge in Niger as they flee the conflict in Mali.

The makeshift shelters they build provide little protection from the tropical weather.

The following diagrams show how 7 poles arranged in a simple reciprocal frame could make a huge difference to their lives. The reciprocal frame concept is simple to use and very strong.

Poles can be either bamboo from nearby reserves in the Niger Delta or the steel poles in a Reciproboo Shelter Kit (RSK). Both frames are lightweight and can be carried by a family and used later to construct a more permanent shelter.

Photos credited to UNHCR.


Main canopy pulled back during the day.


Only 7 bamboo poles are required for this shelter.
The inner 4 pole reciprocal roof (grey poles) can be seen inside supporting the main roof. This roof can support the additional weight of branches, brush or reeds making it much cooler than a tent.


Only 7 bamboo poles are needed to make this simple shelter.

Here the 4 pole reciprocal frame roof side of the shelter is clearly seen supporting a heavy tarpaulin. It can also support the weight of insulating materials or be elevated if required.

Note the canopy pulled away from the other side at far right for additional space.


Mali refugees using available materials to make a shelter.

This crude type of support for blankets and plastic sheeting is seen worldwide after disasters.

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