International Bamboo and Rattan Organization

International Bamboo and Rattan Organization

Bamboo for Shelter Construction in Odisha, India


Bamboo for Shelter Construction in Odisha, India


The state of Odisha has often faced numerous challenges on account of it being frequently impacted by flooding, cyclones and monsoon rains which in turn recurrently causes widespread damage to shelters. CRS (Catholic Relief Services) recently commissioned INBAR (International Bamboo and Rattan Organisation) to conduct a study on bamboo shelters in this State, with the aim of understanding the feasibility of using locally available bamboo for shelter construction, and to recommend strategies and approaches to improve bamboo shelters in both post-disaster and long-term development context.

Experts who are a part of INBAR’s Construction Task Force carried out a field visit in July and have recently completed the decision-making guide. The site visit involved the use of observational and participative data-gathering techniques, which included focus groups and interviews with local community members, workers involved in bamboo harvesting, treatment and construction, and input from local government representatives.

The assessment found that bamboo clearly plays an essential role in the shelter and ancillary structures throughout rural communities in the State. Unfortunately, current levels of knowledge along with the adoption of techniques that support optimal utilisation of bamboo for shelter is low. For instance, bamboo that is currently utilised is immature, unseasoned, improperly treated and fully exposed to the elements. As a result, bamboo shelters have poor durability and therefore poor disaster resilience. This negatively affects people’s perception of the material, and therefore people’s overwhelming preference is for modern reinforced concrete shelters instead of bamboo.

The project produced a decision-making guide, for CRS to determine when bamboo would and wouldn’t be appropriate for use in Odisha for different communities, structural elements, and in context of disasters.

The guide will be freely available on CRS’s website in the future.



Catholic Relief Services (CRS) is a US-based relief and development agency working in over 100 countries to alleviate poverty and suffering. CRS’ signature program areas are emergency response support, recovery and preparedness; agricultural livelihoods; and health. CRS has managed emergency and development programs across India since 1946. Currently, CRS supports 35 local partners in India to implement a variety of programs in disaster management (including emergency response, disaster preparedness and risk reduction), agricultural livelihoods, health, and women and child protection. With floods, cyclones and other natural disasters affecting millions of people in India every year, CRS works with vulnerable households to strengthen the resilience of their houses, livelihoods, and water and sanitation systems. CRS works closely with research institutions to identify effective practices, apply evidence-based approaches, and continuously learn and improve the impact of its programs. In Odisha, CRS works/has worked in shelter and settlement to support nearly 4000 households with the building/repair of shelters.

Project proponents are willing to share the key results with other stakeholders including –
– Odisha State Disaster Management Authority (OSDMA)
– District Emergency officer, Puri
– Project Director, District Rural Development Agency, Puri
– Block Development officers of Nimapada and Kanas in Puri
– International and local NGOs working on shelter programming in the state of Odisha.

For further information, please contact
– Liu Kewei, Coordinator of the Global Bamboo Construction Programme and Construction Task Force:
– T.P.Subramony, Director, INBAR India office and Regional Coordinator for South Asia: