Rohingya refugee families build RSK shelters

Visit to Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh. October 2017.

This was an opportunity to meet the Shelter Sector members and assess the need for bamboo RSK shelters in the Rohingya refugee crisis.

In the face of such a massive influx of refugees aid agencies had only been able to provide basic materials; a single tarpaulin and bamboo, for each family. The families had then proceeded to build their own makeshift shelters, often on precarious hillside sites.

I joined up with a local NGO, "Pulse", that was actively building shelters at the Kutapolong MS
(makeshift shelter) camp. On 21st October, after buying tarpaulins, bamboo and jute lashings from the local market, we met up with some newly arrived families that had already cleared and levelled their allocated plots on an already overcrowded hillside site.

As anticipated, building the reciprocal frame roof for the shelter was new to the Rohingya, but after only a few minutes demonstration they embraced the new method of construction. Young and old assisted with lashing the roof frames together on the ground before lifting the completed roof frame onto pre-positioned support posts. At one point I took the opportunity to demonstrate how the roof frame could also be swung down on one side to provide a low profile severe storm shelter if needed.

After 7 hours, the team of 12, mainly Rohingya family members, had completed 6 RSK shelters; the last shelter taking less than one hour. The Pulse representative commented that he thought they could build over 20 units a day with this team if they had a supply of tarpaulins and bamboo.

RSK Shelter

This video clip shows the Rohingya families building RSK shelters for the first time.


Two roof rames for double shelter near completion

Young and old assisting with lashing roof frame together on the ground


Roof frame lifted onto support posts


Rohingya family members were keen to demonstrate how roof frame can be swung down in severe weather.


Double RSK with roof tarpaulin in position

Inside single RSK fitting out

Single RSK walls being completed


Double RSK nears completion

Single RSK

Single RSK nears completion

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