Delighted to have Sandra D'Urzo from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies headquarters in Geneva visit the north of Sri Lanka in the past two weeks. Have a look at her interview on Shelter, Settlement and PASSA.
Graham Saunders gives an introuduction to PASSAShelter and settlement risks and vulnerabilities are on the
increase due to changes in disaster trends, the impact of climate
change, as well as growing social and economic marginalisation
and urbanisation. At the same time, institutional resources to
support safe and adequate housing are declining because of
global financial constraints, the move towards smaller, less
interventionist government, and the scale of the challenges
faced. Households and communities that were previously able
to safeguard their lives and assets using their own resources
and know-how are increasingly finding that the type, scale and
frequency of the hazards they are now being exposed to pose a
severe threat to their safety and well-being.
Major disasters often, but not always, generate sufficient funding
for the required reconstruction and recovery. This can promote
the need to ‘build back better’; however, this is the exception.
With disaster trends indicating a move towards more frequent
small and medium-scale emergencies, the majority of households
affected by such localized disasters have to draw upon their own
limited resources, and invariably rebuild the same vulnerabilities.
There is no active presence to promote better practices in
mitigation and limited or no financial or technical support to
incorporate sustainable approaches to building resilience. What
can be done in such contexts, with unlimited needs but very
limited external resources?
A participatory approach to safe shelter awareness (PASSA)
aims to raise the awareness of the ‘everyday vulnerable’ of the
‘everyday risks’ related to their built environment and foster
locally appropriate safe shelter and settlement practices. It
offers a simple process, facilitated by the Red Cross Red Crescent
volunteers and technical advisors, through which communities International
Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies can build upon
their own insights, skills and leadership to attain
improved living conditions and safer habitats.
Using a step-by-step methodology, PASSA utilizes three
complementary processes. Firstly, it harnesses the established role
of the National Societies to support community-led and socially
inclusive development activities. Secondly, it enables communities
to identify their own solutions and realistic and comprehensive
strategies for addressing the myriad of problems that include
spatial and environmental planning, local building cultures and
the effectiveness of local construction techniques. Thirdly, it
fosters partnerships between local authorities, communities and
supporting organizations to prepare for, cope with and recover
The expertise of construction specialists is needed throughout
the process, to respond to technical issues arising and to help
manage the expectations of communities and households on
modifications to houses and the surrounding settlement. These
professionals work collaboratively with social mobilizers to
promote awareness, bring coherence to the risk-management
efforts and ensure the technical performance of the safe shelter
and settlement solutions identified.
PASSA draws upon the well-established practice of community
action planning, and the participatory hygiene and sanitation
transformation (PHAST) methodology used by many National
Societies. With IFRC’s vulnerability and capacity assessment
(VCA) to provide an overall analysis of a community’s needs
and assets, PASSA is the participatory tool to comprehensively
identify and safeguard against shelter and settlement risks.9
International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
Foreword Participatory Approach for Safe Shelter Awareness
The use of PASSA valuably informs both individual and
community understanding of vulnerability related to the built
environment, and leads to the identification and promotion
of locally appropriate measures to achieve safer shelter and settlement.