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Shelter Policy




Natural and human-induced hazards have caused devastating loss of life or injury, property damage, social and economic disruption or environmental degradation. This Policy is guided by the probability that a severe disaster impacting Trinidad and Tobago could render a significant percentage of the population homeless.  Under such circumstances the Government has stated its intention to establish a mechanism that provides emergency shelter for members of the public. The Government’s emergency shelter programme will augment the resources of the private sector and non- government organizations to cope with the emergency shelter needs resulting from a threatened alert or the impact of a disaster.

This Policy outlines the necessary steps and procedures necessary for actualizing an efficient Shelter Management System.

The project to develop a Shelter Management Policy for Trinidad and Tobago was identified as a need by the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management (ODPM) of the Government of Trinidad and Tobago (GoTT), and supported by the European Union under the European Union’s 9th EDF Programme for “Trinidad and Tobago”. Technical Assistance to the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management was provided under Framework Contract Beneficiaries 2009 - Lot 6 – Environment.

Specific Contract N° 2010/234625.



The government has a responsibility for ensuring the safety of its citizenry, its critical life lines and infrastructure GoTT has to ensure the proper mechanisms are in place to alleviate the extent of suffering and hardships caused by disasters.

The overall policy of the Government is to establish and maintain a system for reducing damage, loss and dislocation from disasters. To this end the Government is in the process of establishing a Comprehensive Disaster Management Framework coordinated by the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management with responsibility for leading all national programmes for Disaster Risk Management.

Integral to the national disaster risk management programme is a National Emergency Shelter programme, which is to be guided by an Emergency Shelter Policy. This document will outline areas such as shelter management training, maintenance and retrofitting of shelters, inspection of shelters, management issues, and government and private sector roles. It is expected that there various areas are addressed and supported by legislation.


Rationale and Purpose of Policy

The National Shelter Management Policy is based on the premise that a significant number of residents can be made homeless by a major disaster event. In such cases it will be the responsibility of the Government to provide safe temporary shelter for the displaced population. In this regard the Policy is intended to provide an overall framework for the development of a detailed shelter management plan.


Policy Goal

To create the framework for national arrangements to manage emergency shelter needs arising from the impact of the hazards that threaten our citizenry and to expedite the rehabilitation of citizens that are displaced by these hazard events.


Policy Objectives

The draft Emergency Shelter Policy provides the framework for the programme activities and is the basis for realizing the policy objective. Effective policy implementation will result in:

1.1     The establishment of a national shelter body with responsibility for managing the programme.

1.2     The provision of temporary shelter and/or support for rehabilitation of displaced persons from disasters.

1.3     The evacuation and sheltering of guests /visitors to the islands.

1.4     Shelters that meet the established requirements.

1.5     Shelters that meet standards for persons with physical disabilities

1.6     Establishment of specific shelters for persons with chronic illness who would be unable to survive in a normal shelter environment.

1.7     Established time frame and criteria for the opening and closure of shelters

1.8     The establishment of a national mechanism for the provision of services for emergency shelters.

1.9     The establishment of linkages between the emergency shelter management and other disaster response programme activities such as evacuation, relief and rehabilitation.

1.10     The establishment of a mechanism within the emergency shelter programme for selection, identification, maintenance and upkeep of shelters.

1.11     Trained personnel for shelter operations whose roles and responsibilities are clearly defined.

1.12     A programme that caters for long term sheltering needs.

1.13     A public that is knowledgeable about the emergency shelter programme.

1.14     Shelter management system will be linked to community disaster plans

1.15     Procedures for the inspection of buildings designated as emergency shelters in the aftermath of an earthquake.


Policy Strategy

The policy is developed on the basis that a severe disaster can greatly undermine the capacity of the population to cope utilizing its own resources.  Under such circumstances to ensure the continuity of government, business and social activities with the concurrent lessening in social tension the Government of Trinidad and Tobago is committed to ensuring that all members of the society in need of temporary shelter are provided for.  To effect this, the Government will work through a national body to undertake all aspects of the shelter management process, from shelter identification and inspection to staffing and closure. This integrated team will work under the general direction of the Ministry of Local Government which will have overall responsibility for the management of shelters.

Composition of Shelter Management Team:

  • ODPM
  • Ministry of the People and Social Development
  • Ministry of Local Government
  • Ministry of Education
  • Ministry of Community Development
  • Ministry of Works and Transport
  • Ministry of Housing and the Environment
  • Private Sector
  • NGO’s


Priority Areas for Action

  • Shelter identification and inspection
  • Retrofit of homes to meet acceptable standards for shelter
  • Train shelter management  personnel
  • Enact of laws and regulations for shelters
  • Establish links between shelter programme and other relevant plans.
  • Formal budget arrangement for shelters
  • Purpose built shelters

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