Plastic sheeting, a guide to the specification and use of plastic sheeting in humanitarian relief

This booklet is aimed to help humanitarian aid workers make more informed decisions on the use of plastic sheeting in emergencies. The target audience includes programme managers, field based engineers and technical staff, logisticians and others involved in providing emergency shelter and sanitation services to disaster and conflicted families.

Contents include:

  • Decision making guidelines for considering when plastic sheeting is an appropriate material;
  • How to efficiently specify, transport, warehouse and distribute plastic sheeting;
  • International standards and specific actions of plastic sheeting;
  • Construction details of plastic sheeting as a building material;
  • Key climate and performance issues;
  • Environmental considerations and safe disposal;
  • Guidance on usage of other polyethylene based sheeting products;
  • Reference section on where to go for more detailed technical advice.

This booklet recognizes that plastic sheeting is an extremely versatile emergency relief item that can be effective in addressing the immediate needs of displaced or affected families. Although the humanitarian community spends millions of dollars each year on plastic sheeting, some of this is wasted due to poor quality, inadequate specification, and poorly informed usage. It is hoped that this booklet will help promote a better understanding of when plastic sheeting is appropriate, as well as ensuring a wider consistency in the quality of material and technical aid on its use.

IFRC, Oxfam, 2007

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