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Hi Chioma, Thank you and the experts for your feedback and thought-provoking questions. Our team has met to consider these questions and has also continued to elicit feedback from potential beneficiaries on the ground. Based on these discussions, we have responded to your questions in the body of many of our responses above. In summary:

1. How our project is different from other collaborative shelter projects: Humanitarian assistance has often focused on reaching the largest number of people in the shortest time. However, the reality is that affected populations actually drive the shelter recovery process, conducting the majority of shelter-related improvements. This means that the majority of the recovery process will be done by local people using their own knowledge, accessible materials, and skills. Humanitarian assistance actually often serves to slow the natural recovery process, however; with the promise of aid, communities often halt their own efforts with the hope of being one of the few that receives external support.

Our project aims to understand this process of self-recovery - to recognize and value its strength, but also, to co-identify its weaknesses. By doing this, we will co-develop solutions that will address the local weaknesses using local capacities, knowledge, and opportunity. This is something that has never been done before in Somalia and has the potential to establish a strong strategy link between affected populations and the humanitarian community to ensure that communities are able to leverage their own self-recovery processes most effectively with less reliance on external aid.

2. Ensuring the manual is comprehensive: The manual - a collaborative output between communities and construction experts - will cover every stage of the local building culture value chain from assessment, planning and procurement to maintenance and expansion. The manual, however, is only the physical manifestation of the skills and new perspectives that will be built as a result of this project. The manual will serve as a tool to bring relevant, achievable solutions to the communities that need them while also broadening the perspectives of shelter-implementing humanitarian agencies.

3. Harnessing existing knowledge and accessible resources through a process for capitalization and proliferation: This project will serve as a bridge between aid organizations and affected communities. The project brings the local building culture back to life and promotes a more substantive dialogue between the communities at stake and the implementing organizations. The main issue in many urban slums in Somalia is that local building culture has largely been left to languish. While natural and local materials may be accessible, the ways to use them for more resilient construction may not be widely used in favor of the more ‘modern’ solutions promoted by aid agencies. This is largely the result of a focus by the humanitarian community on one-size-fits-all, contractor-driven solutions in the insecure context of Somalia for many years. This project will work to bring together community members with the knowledge of local building culture for iterative exercises with construction experts. This process will allow for identification and improvement of existing methods and material use while providing a forum for proliferation throughout communities wishing to remain in their location of displacement.

Thank you for your comment, Abaazan. We certainly agree and feel that using existing building knowledge that is already suited to the local context is critical to having a sustainable and appropriate solution. We look forward to continuing to learn from the communities in which we work and providing technical innovations that strengthen these existing adaptations.

Hi Steven, thank you for your comments. We will address these comments in our update that we will post next week. Thank you for your very useful and thought-provoking input!