Shaun Halbert

Founder and director of the RSK shelter Charity

Background

Shaun is a veterinary surgeon with a special interest in the health and welfare of displaced families living in emergency shelter. After training as a disaster response volunteer in 2006 he was deployed for several years providing emergency shelters to disasters in Asia, Africa and South America.

inspiration

 

Leonardo Da Vinci had used a 4 pole reciprocal frame grid  to support floors and bridges and it was this load bearing arrangement of poles that was the inspiration for Shaun to use it for the roof of a new type of relief shelter, the Reciprocal frame Shelter Kit or RSK.

earthquake motivation

Over the next 2 years he also observed that families invariably struggled to build their own shelters after a disaster when they were only supplied with a tarpaulin and no frame to support it. It was after the Haiti earthquake in 2010, when he saw heavy rains cause hundreds of these poorly built makeshift shelters to collapse,that he was motivated to develop something new.

early observations

In 2008 he led a team over a six week period delivering tents to families made homeless by the Koshi River disaster. He then returned to Nepal after 3 months to carry out a survey of living conditions in the camps. He reported that families living in the tarpaulin and bamboo frame shelters built by Oxfam engineers were enduring far better than those families provided with tents that were rapidly degrading, poorly ventilated, mouldy and unfit for habitation.

   development  

Shaun has been developing the RSK shelter in four countries over a period of 9 years. The university research, wind tunnel testing, intensive RSK workshops and field trials have all now been completed. He is continuing to provide the  RSK training courses for local and international NGOs as well as the RSK shelter preparedness training for communities at risk.

future aims

 

Shaun has been evaluating the potential of the improved ventilation provided by the RSK shelter to lower the incidence of deaths due to acute respiratory infections in refugee camps. The coronavirus is a respiratory virus and this has made the RSK particularly relevant in the global pandemic. He has recently focused on how these RSK benefits can provide emergency assistance to aid agencies in managing COVID-19.  His next priority will be to set up an RSK shelter pilot and then to scale up its use for all shelter stakeholders.

Team Bikalpa Nepal

In 2012 this young team from this local NGO and an engineer from Pakistan spent 5 days at a workshop in Kathmandu building all the different types of RSK shelter. This ground breaking work set the foundations for all future RSKs to follow. Not only did they build the first ever elevated RSK shelters but they also showed that the shelter could be built with the weaker fresh cut green bamboo in an emergency.

team Bikalpa complete the first bamboo RSK shelter workshop

Red Cross and Myanmar Shelter Custer team

In 2016 the Myanmar Red Cross hosted three RSK workshops at which a total of 126 Red Cross volunteers, local shelter NGOs and INGO shelter staff were trained to build RSK shelters

Red Cross and Shelter Cluster staff attend RSK shelter training 2016 

35 INGO Shelter Cluster staff and 22 government engineers from Rakhine State underwent training to use RSK shelter in May 2017. At that time the intention was to provide temporary shelter for Rohingya refugees returning from Bangladesh.

UNHCR and Myanmar government engineers build RSKs in Sittwe 2017

UNHCR team set up joint RSK training.

UNHCR and Myanmar Government engineers build RSKs in Sittwe in 2017

NRC staff that attended the Sittwe course carried out emergency RSK shelter training at a further 10 IDP camps in Bhamo, Kachin State.

NRC team take their RSK training to Kachin State

NRC staff building RSKs in Kachin State in 2017

Community Development Association (CDA)  team

Members of the CDA took their RSK training to Northern Shan State and set up flood preparedness courses in commumities at risk of floods

the CDA team train villagers in Northern Shan to build RSK shelters