The dictionary meaning of a shelter is – something beneath, behind, or within which a person, animal or anything is protected from adverse conditions, and where it can reproduce is called as a shelter.
Shelter may be defined as an establishment that provides temporary housing for homeless people, including animals. Or, Shelter (building), a basic architectural structure or building that provides cover.
Arrangements for living and getting food for stray animals, is called as Animal Shelter. A shelter is somewhat similar to a habitat. In ecological terms – a habitat is an ecological or environmental area that is inhabited by a particular species of animal, plant, or other type of organism. It is the natural environment in which an organism lives, or the physical environment that surrounds a species population. A habitat is made up of physical factors such as soil, moisture, range of temperature, and availability of light as well as biotic factors such as the availability of food and the presence of predators.
A habitat is not necessarily a geographic area—for a parasitic organism it is the body of its host, part of the host’s body such as the digestive tract, or a cell within the host’s body which is its habitat. A habitat may be a micro-habitat or a very small area like holes and crevices and a mega-habitat or a very large area like a forest.
Habitats on the earth are of many different types. These include –lakes, streams, forests, or even a drop of water. All the habitats on the earth are part of the biosphere. Because the earth is always changing, habitats are changing too. Habitats that have similar climate and biological components are called as biomes. When a species is threatened, or becomes near extinction, it becomes important to protect their habitat. Certain areas become a “critical habitat” that are protected by laws to prevent killing, removing or bothering those species so that they can produce young and continue to thrive. The grizzly bears of Yellowstone National Park were once on the endangered species list. But through protection of their habitat and efforts to make sure that they could survive, they have increased in numbers and are now, no longer in danger.
Need for Shelter
Every living being needs a shelter to live, to protect him from adverse physical and biological forces. Physical forces include rains, sun, wind, cold, snow, disasters etc. Biological forces include insects, snakes, enemies and wild animals. In some areas, need for shelter may take precedence over need for food and possibly even need for water. For example, prolonged exposure to cold can cause excessive fatigue and weakness (exhaustion). An exhausted person may develop a “passive” outlook, thereby losing the will to survive.
According to some anthropologists, shelter is one of the requirements for addressing our physiological needs (along with the need of food, water, air, sleep, and sex). Maslow represented the human’s physiological needs at the base of a triangle to show that meeting these needs are the most important in our lives. If these needs are not met, the individual may only be able to focus on meeting their physiological needs and not feel motivated to move towards self-actualization.
Types of Shelter or Habitat
A shelter or habitat is classified into Terrestrial and Aquatic. The Terrestrial Habitat includes Grassland, Mountainous area, desert, and forest. The Aquatic habitat may include fresh water habitat like a pond, and marine habitat like ocean. Organisms live in all these types of habitats forming different types of association. Thus, populations and communities of plants and animals are found in all these habitats.
Need for Living Together
With the development of civilization human beings started living in groups. This was the emergence of human societies which offered an organized life.
Human beings needed to live together to have a family and to rear and develop children. They lived together for social security and social strength. Thus, human settlements were formed. As early human beings started cultivation, they needed to settle at certain place so as to perform agricultural activities, look after their crops; protect them from cattle, collect grains and to run a safe and secure life. They needed to live together to rear children and to develop them into complete human beings, and to get social strength to fight against various forces including wild animals.
In simpler term we can define settlement as any form of human habitation which ranges from a single dowelling to a large city. The word settlement has another connotation as well as this is a process of opening up and settling of a previously uninhabited area by the people.
In geography this process is known as occupancy. Therefore, we can say settlement is a process of grouping of people and acquiring of some territory to build houses as well as for their economic support.
Settlements can broadly be divided into two types – rural and urban. Some basic differences between rural and urban settlements are –
(i) Rural settlements have predominantly primary activities, whereas urban areas have domination of secondary and tertiary activities.
(ii) The rural areas have low density of population than urban. Neighbourhood- Mapping and Representation
Neighbourhood is a geographically localized community within an area, may it be a rural area, a town or a city, or sub-urban. Neighbourhood are considered as social communities in which face-to-face interaction among people take place. In general terms, neighbourhood may be defined as a specific geographic area having a set of social networks.
Neighbourhoods are typically generated by social interaction among people living near one another. In this sense neighbourhoods are local social units larger than households not directly under the control of city or state officials.
In some pre-industrial urban traditions, basic municipal functions such as protection, social regulation of births and marriages, cleaning and upkeep are handled informally by neighbourhoods and not by urban governments.
In addition to social neighbourhoods, most ancient and historical cities also had administrative districts used by officials for taxation, record-keeping, and social control. Administrative districts are typically larger than neighbourhoods and their boundaries may cut across neighbourhood divisions. In some cases, however, administrative districts coincided with neighbourhoods, leading to a high level of regulation of social life by officials.
Neighbourhoods have several advantages as areas for policy analysis through mapping and representation, as well as an area for social action:
1. Most people in neighbourhood in urbanized area consider themselves as living in one.
2. Neighbourhoods are convenient, and always accessible, since a man is already in his neighbourhood when he walks out door.
3. Successful neighbourhood action frequently requires little specialized technical skill.
4. With neighbourhood action, compared to activity on larger scales, results are more likely to be visible and quickly forthcoming. The streets are cleaner; the crosswalk is painted; the trees are planted; the festival draws a crowd.
5. Visible and swift results are indicators of success.
6. Because neighbourhood action usually involves others, such actions create or strengthen connections and relationships with other neighbours, leading in turn to a variety of potentially positive effects.
In addition to the benefits detailed above, strong and cohesive neighbourhoods and communities are linked to decreases in crime, better outcomes for children, and improved physical and mental health. The social support that a strong neighbourhood may provide can serve as a buffer against various forms of adverse conditions.
Rural – Urban Houses and Slums
There is a vast gap between rural and urban houses in India. A well-connected village may have some good built concrete houses with the supply of electricity. Otherwise, houses in remote areas are usually built of clay and thatched roofs. People living below poverty line are often homeless.
In India, around 1% of the rural population is reported to be without a home. About 60% of the homeless population is from rural areas. In terms of housing units, the housing shortage is estimated to be 148.33 lakh houses. The shortage of housing has increased at the rate of 0.89 million houses per year during 1991 -2002.
Housing in urban areas is currently marked by increasing number of shopping malls, apartments, and multiplexes. However, the dark side of the urban housing is increasing number of slums. It is reported that the number of slum dwellers is growing 22% faster than that of the urban population. About 14% of the urban population lives in slums and their numbers are growing faster than those of entire cities. According to estimates, while the urban population is growing at an average 2.7%, the number of slum dwellers has been rising at 3.3%.
The National Sample Survey Organization (NSSO) estimates that the slum dwellers’ tally has increased over the last ten years. In 1993, 60 lakh urban households lived in slums. By ’02, when the last survey was conducted, the number had increased to 80 lakh households.