Crystal Whitaker

Crystal Whitaker

Role: Emergency Shelter Advisor


I joined CARE’s Humanitarian Technical Team as Emergency Shelter Advisor in May 2018, after over eight years on deployment in the Balkans, Middle East and West Africa. I initially trained in architecture in the UK before moving to Kosovo where I was involved in urban, rural and municipal spatial planning, durable solutions, return and reintegration processes, and the protection of cultural heritage, with a number of organisations such as the Danish Refugee Council, UNDP, the Council of Europe and the International Civilian Office. I have since transitioned into early recovery, humanitarian and emergency fields, broadening technical experience as a first-line responder in the management and coordination of multi-sectorial RRM, Food Security, Shelter/NFI and WASH activities, most recently in northern and central Iraq and in northeast Nigeria. A central interest is in where and how immediate humanitarian relief activities can contribute incrementally to longer term, more durable, integrated and sustainable solutions for both displaced, hosting and affected populations, with a focus on the nature of communication and engagement between local authorities, communities and individuals to enable ownership and agency to positive effect. For this I have tried to gain practical, ‘hands on’ experience in the field to better understand the varying contexts and conditions encountered over time by communities in crisis.

One good thing I’ve read

A series of texts I read during the early days of moving from architecture to the development world helped in my understanding of active conflicts and in defining the possibilities for reconciliation or peaceful tolerance (or not) in the lengthy and indeterminate period after a conflict, particularly when there is an ethnic dimension to the violence: Violence Taking Place: The Architecture of the Kosovo Conflict by Andrew Herscher, Monument and Crime: The Destruction of Cultural Heritage in Kosovo by Andrew Herscher and András Riedlmayer, and Prishtina is Everywhere - Turbo-Urbanism: the Aftermath of a Crisis edited by Kai Vöckler.

Blog posts

As the climate crisis makes natural disasters a daily reality for people around the world, communities and humanitarian organisations are looking for ways to mitigate risks and build resilience. In 2019, in the aftermath of Cyclone Idai – which

“Here, we have six seasons,” explained CARE’s Shelter Programme Manager, Shah Suja, as we raced along the road that connects Cox’s Bazar town to the refugee camps. Those “six seasons” bring searing heat, torrential rain, cyclones and