How can modular housing help in disaster management?

Pakistan is exposed to a variety of natural hazards, including earthquakes, floods, cyclones, droughts, and landslides. The greatest destruction and loss recorded in the country’s history was in 2005 when a high magnitude earthquake hit Pakistan and caused 86,000 deaths. Other indirect income losses resulted in a total cost of $576 million and the cost of relief, recovery, and reconstruction was $5.2 billion.

Natural disasters also pose a significant financial challenge. Flooding alone causes an expected yearly financial effect of 3–4 percent on the federal budget. The 2010 flooding devastated 78 districts and affected over 20 million people. The cost of recovery and reconstruction was estimated to be $10 billion. Moreover, in 2011, serious flooding affected another 9.6 million individuals. Data maintained by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) reveals that since the 2005 earthquake, floods and droughts have damaged nearly 4.3 million houses.

One of the major concerns resulting from natural disasters is internally displaced people (IDPs). Due to multiple natural disasters in recent years, Pakistan has faced a series of displacement crises resulting in 19 million people to be homeless. The government has responded to the displacement by providing millions of people food, necessary household items, temporary shelters, and cash assistance.

However, there have been significant limitations in terms of providing these displaced people with permanent housing due to excessive costs because of which these people are forced to live below living standards. The refugee camps provided to the displaced people lack basic facilities such as proper toilets and running water. On top of it all, most of these people are never able to reinstate their lives and are forced to spend the rest of their lives under such poor conditions. It is the responsibility of the government to provide them with proper housing that meets basic living standards as it is the right of every human being to lead a decent life.

A solution to this crisis is the presence of an affordable housing technology called modular housing. These houses provide an instant solution because they can be built in only 3 hours using 3 people and have a lifespan of 30+ years. Modular houses are easy to transport and can be relocated easily. Eleven flat-pack houses can be transported anywhere in a single truck and no special equipment is needed to unpack and assemble these structures. Multiple size options are also available depending on the number of people to be accommodated in a house.

Apart from the feasibility of modular homes, these houses are also affordable. They cost significantly less than concrete houses and have many benefits that a regular concrete structure might not have. These houses are not only wind resistant but are also resistant to earthquakes and cyclones which makes them a superior solution even in times of a natural disaster. All utilities are also included and the houses are well insulated in order to deal with extreme weather.

More importantly, these homes provide a permanent solution to the problems caused by natural disasters whereby many people lose their homes and are only provided with temporary shelters (tents) where they spend the rest of their lives below living standards.

Hence, modular housing is a better alternative to refugee camps because of their feasibility and affordability. Since they are cheaper in cost than concrete houses, it makes them budget-friendly for the government in situations of natural hazards while also providing a long-lasting solution to the housing crisis resulting from natural disasters.