"The Better Shelter units provide a sense of permanence. They help make the patients understand that we provide trustworthy health care."
– Toasim Ahmed Chowdhury, Medical Officer, HAEFA
The project in brief
The project is implemented by Better Shelter and Haefa in Bangladesh. It began in 2018 and is currently ongoing.
Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, is currently home to nearly one million Rohingya refugees. This group has faced substantial challenges, being labelled "the most persecuted minority in the world" due to institutionalised discrimination and violence. The influx of Rohingya refugees into Cox's Bazar reached a critical point in 2017 following a military campaign in Myanmar, resulting in the largest exodus in recent history.
To address health needs in the community, we built Relief Housing Units for the local organisation Health and Education for All (HAEFA), with support from a donor, to establish health posts in Kutupalong Camp and Balukhali Camp.
These health posts aim to manage non-communicable diseases, including hypertension, diabetes, and other chronic diseases such as tuberculosis.
Main activities of the Good Practice
We helped to construct two clinics with the partners and supported them with capacity building and advise on adaptations. The shelters have been upgraded over the years, and one of the clinics has been in operation for five years.
These health posts aim to manage non-communicable diseases free of charge. Since the project's initiation until June 2023, HAEFA has recorded over 240,000 patient footfalls from the Rohingya and host communities.
Together with our partners, we continue to develop these shelters to address the needs of the millions of people who may face displacement in the future. Our approach revolves around creating a modular and versatile shelter framework that can be easily stockpiled and assembled anywhere without needing tools.
This shelter framework can be covered with various materials, providing flexible, low-cost structures for different contexts. We will offer a tent cover that can serve as an emergency shelter in emergencies, with the option to upgrade to more durable materials if the community remains displaced.
A prefabricated panel system offers safety and dignity from the outset, with quick assembly and versatile applications. We choose materials that create as little environmental impact as possible and offer extended safety and dignity while serving as temporary structures that fit into complex humanitarian responses.
We also encourage cladding the frame with available building materials using local traditions and expertise. This enables communities to upgrade and adapt their shelters as local resources become accessible, transforming them into more durable buildings after disasters and in protracted emergencies.
Implementation of the project was helped by dedicated funding and dedicated local medical NGO with significant expertise.
© Better Shelter
What challenges were encountered in delivering the project and how were they overcome?
- Build shelters on a small plot
- Adapt them to the needs of the medical NGO
How they were overcome
We supported HAEFA, and joined several shelters together to form larger structures enabling a good patient flow for the clinic.
Results of the Good Practice
Since the project's initiation in 2018 until June 2023, the health posts have recorded over 240,000 patient visits from the Rohingya and host communities.
In what way does the good practice meet one or more of the four objectives of the Global Compact on Refugees?
Objective 1: Ease the pressures on host countries
The clinic treats host community patients, thereby supporting the local health system.
Objective 2: Enhance refugee self-reliance
Access to free healthcare and the ability to maintain good health is fundamental for the self-reliance of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh.
The clinic has been running for five years and continues providing care.
Are there areas in which support would be required to continue and/or scale up your good practice?
Continued R&D with different partners to learn how to further adapt our shelter system to support more refugees better.